The Mets have decided to favor experience over youth, at least for one weekend. They announced that Miguel Batista would initially fill Dillon Gee’s rotation spot and start Saturday against the Dodgers.
The 41-year-old Batista will be making his first start since May 19. He’s 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in four starts this season. A mop-up man of late, he’s allowed three runs — two earned — and seven hits in four innings out of the pen this month.
The alternative to Batista was Matt Harvey, and the Mets gave enough thought bringing up their 2010 first-round pick that manager Terry Collins felt the need to call him when he wasn’t chosen. Harvey was put on schedule to pitch Saturday when Triple-A Buffalo set its rotation following the All-Star break. He allowed two runs and three hits in 6 2/3 innings in his start for the Bisons last night.
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.