Houston picked up a potential back-of-the-rotation starter in John Ely, acquiring the right-hander from Los Angeles for minor leaguer Rob Rasmussen.
Ely hasn’t had much success in various stints with the Dodgers, throwing 115 career innings with a 5.70 ERA, but he led the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a 3.20 ERA this year while posting an excellent 165/36 K/BB ratio in 169 innings.
Obviously the Astros can use all the pitching help they can get and the 27-year-old Ely has the potential to be useful if given an extended opportunity.
Rasmussen was the Marlins’ second-round pick in 2010, had a mediocre season between Single-A and Double-A as a 23-year-old, and was traded to the Astros in the Carlos Lee deal. He’s not a bad pickup for the Dodgers considering Ely wasn’t in their plans at all.
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.