With the player obviously in favor of undergoing the procedure now, the Red Sox have decided to relent: Carl Crawford will have Tommy John surgery Thursday and sit out the rest of the season.
Crawford missed the first half of the season rehabbing his wrist and elbow, but he returned last month to hit .282/.306/.479 in 117 at-bats, which should at least help alleviate concerns that he’s going to be a complete bust in a Red Sox uniform after an extremely disappointing first year in Boston.
Still, he couldn’t have helped his standing with the fanbase by making it known that he wanted surgery now. Even had Crawford waited until after the season, he most likely would have been ready for Opening Day 2013. Given that he’s a left fielder, it’s not as though he’s forced to unleash several hard throws per game. Actually playing in games will be less intensive than much of his rehab is going to be.
With Crawford out, Scott Podsednik likely will get most of the starts in left field for now. Daniel Nava should return within a week to share time there.
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.