Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported yesterday that the Dodgers were awarded claiming rights on Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee. But that doesn’t mean the southpaw will follow his former teammate Joe Blanton to Los Angeles.
According to Paul Hagen of MLB.com, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. wouldn’t confirm or deny Morosi’s report when asked about it last night, but said that it’s “irrelevant” because Lee “isn’t going anywhere.” A deal is considered unlikely, but Dodgers have until Sunday to convince the Phillies otherwise.
The Phillies can simply pull Lee back from waivers, leave the Dodgers on the hook for Lee’s contract or attempt to work out a deal. Lee, who turns 34 later this month, is guaranteed nearly $95 million between now and 2015. His contract allows him to block trades to 21 teams. Players can only be placed on revocable waivers once this month, so if the Phillies pull Lee back, he will remain with the club for at least the rest of the season.
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.