I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the box score this morning, but there it was. Jeff Francoeur drew three walks in last night’s 4-2 win over the White Sox.
The three walks were actually a career-high for Francoeur. The free-swinging outfielder came into last night’s action with just 20 walks all season. He had drawn two walks in a game 18 previous times in his career, but never three.
Before you think that Francoeur is turning a new leaf at the plate, just realize that two of the walks were intentional. Perhaps the real headline here should be, “White Sox intentionally walk Jeff Francoeur twice for some reason.” To be fair, Chris Sale was able to work out of scoring threats both times he gave free passes to our old friend Frenchy. Still, this moment is worth filing away for posterity’s sake.
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.