Ruben Amaro Jr. usually plays things pretty close to the vest with reporters, but the Phillies general manager felt comfortable saying that the decision to pick up Carlos Ruiz’s option for next season is “a formality.”
Ruiz is a incredible bargain at just $5 million, as he’s coming off a career-year and was worth significantly more than that in past seasons too.
Philadelphia will likely decline options on Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton, clearing $8 million off the books, but paying $5 million to a 34-year-old Ruiz after he hit .326 with a .936 OPS in 113 games this season is a no-brainer. The only real question is whether Amaro will try to extend the catcher’s contract this offseason to avoid losing him as a free agent after next year.
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.