According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Yankees will make free-agent-to-be Nick Swisher a qualifying offer this winter, but they have “no interest” in re-signing him to a multiyear deal.
The qualifying offer, which would be worth about $13.5 million for 2013, would secure the Yankees a draft pick if Swisher leaves as a free agent. Swisher could opt to accept the one-year deal, but since he’s likely to receive mulityear offers as a free agent, that’s a long shot.
Before a bust of an October in which he hit .167 in 30 at-bats, Swisher had another fine regular season for the Yankees this year, batting .272/.374/.473 with 24 homers and 93 RBI. He’s finished with OPSs between .820 and .870 in each of his four years with the Yankees.
With Swisher, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones all set for free agency, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner are the only veteran Yankees outfielders under contract for next season. Granderson’s $13 million option is assured of being picked up. The Yankees could make an attempt to re-sign Ichiro and Ibanez, but it’s hard to imagine that they’d be content with that foursome of left-handers as their primary outfielders. They could pursue Cody Ross, Torii Hunter or maybe even ALCS MVP Delmon Young as a right-handed-hitting option. Hunter would seem to be a particularly nice fit, but he is expected to remain with the Angels.
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.