The Pirates may offer Russell Martin a three-year deal

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Russel Martin wants a four-year deal.  The Yankees are only willing to give him two years, reports have said. Perhaps if someone were to split the difference? Jon Heyman reports:

Word going around is that the Pirates might come in with the high bid, perhaps for three years and close to $25 million. The Yankees are not believed to be offering anything close to that, but the bidding isn’t over and it has been thought likely that Martin would prefer to stay in New York, where he has been the starting catcher the past two seasons.

Heyman says that while the Rangers and Mariners are also involved, the Yankees — and now the high-bidding Pirates — are the favorites. Martin is expected to make his decision in the coming days.

Location or dollars? The dollars almost always win.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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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.