Nationals third base coach Bo Porter traveled to Houston yesterday and became the first known candidate to interview for the Astros’ managerial opening.
MLB Network analyst and former Phillies manager Larry Bowa is in Houston today talking to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, although it’s not clear if he’s interviewing for the manager job or something else.
Asked by Brian McTaggart of MLB.com about the meeting, Luhnow said it was to “exchange baseball ideas” and “Larry is here to meet with me on some baseball related matters.”
It’s unlikely that the Astros would interview Bowa for a non-manager coaching job, since whoever they end up hiring as manager would surely want to assemble his own staff. It’s also possible that Luhnow is talking to Bowa about a front office or scouting position.
Bowa has tons of coaching and managing experience, including a Manager of the Year award from 2001, but he’s 66 years old and hasn’t managed since being fired by Philadelphia late in the 2004 season and has been doing television work since 2011.
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.