Mariners dump Hector Noesi from the rotation to Triple-A

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Hector Noesi won a spot in the Mariners’ rotation during spring training after coming over from the Yankees in the Jesus Montero-for-Michael Pineda swap, but after going 2-11 with a 5.77 ERA in 17 starts he’s headed back to the minors.

Noesi is 25 years old and still has a future as a potential fourth or fifth starter, but there isn’t much reason for any optimism within his performance. In addition to the ugly win-loss record and ERA he served up 20 homers in 361 at-bats despite calling a pitcher-friendly ballpark home, managed just 60 strikeouts in 97 innings, and handed out 3.2 walks per nine frames.

Poor control, few missed bats, and an inability to keep the ball in the ballpark is just about the worst possible combination for a pitcher, but Noesi may benefit from some time at Triple-A given that he’s made just eight career starts there.

Hisashi Iwakuma is expected to step into the open rotation spot until the Mariners deem top prospect Danny Hultzen ready for the promotion from Triple-A.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.