Ryan Dempster continues to do wonders for his trade value. In his second start back after missing three weeks with a strained right lat muscle, Dempster tossed six shutout innings this afternoon as part of a 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. He now has a career-high 33-inning scoreless streak dating back to May 30 against the Padres.
Dempster’s scoreless streak is the longest in the majors this season, topping R.A. Dickey’s 32 2/3 inning streak from May 22-June 13. It’s also the longest scoreless streak by any Cubs’ pitcher since Ken Holtzman had a 33-inning scoreless streak of his own back in 1969.
Dempster, an impending free agent, currently leads the majors with a 1.86 ERA and has a solid 75/25 K/BB ratio across 92 innings. The 35-year-old has earned ten-and-five rights, so he has the ability to block any trade, but he has indicated that he’s willing to accept a deal in the right situation. The Dodgers have been mentioned frequently as a potential suitor.
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.