Back when Neftali Feliz went on the disabled list with an elbow injury in mid-May the Rangers had so much rotation depth that there was speculation he’d return as a reliever.
Since then Feliz has been joined on the DL by Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando–and Roy Oswalt has been knocked around–so not surprisingly Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Feliz “will be stretched out as a starter” again.
That likely means a longer minor-league rehab assignment, as Feliz will have to build back his arm strength instead of simply being ready for one-inning appearances. So far he’s progressed to throwing bullpen sessions and Davison indicates that Lewis may still beat Feliz back from the DL.
Ogando may also beat Feliz back from injury, but Ogando is being prepped as a reliever again after initially being asked to step into the injury wrecked rotation.
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.