Two months ago Scott Baker said he’d like to remain in Minnesota after missing this season following Tommy John elbow surgery and yesterday during a radio interview with 1500-ESPN general manager Terry Ryan made it clear that the Twins are interested in keeping him around.
Baker has a $9 million option for 2013 that’s certain to be declined, making the 31-year-old right-hander a free agent, but Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the two sides are “working now on a new deal” and talked to a team source who says re-signing Baker is a “high priority.”
An incentive-laden one-year deal would make sense given that Baker is no sure thing to be ready by Opening Day and the Twins are basically rebuilding their entire rotation. When healthy he’s been a solid mid-rotation starter, posting a 3.98 ERA in 821 innings since 2007 while consistently ranking among the league leaders in strikeout-to-walk ratio, but even before the surgery his durability was often in question.
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.