Rafael Soriano was late reporting to the Nationals’ spring training complex this week because of an issue with his work visa. But that’s all settled now.
According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, the Dominican right-hander arrived in Viera, Florida on Saturday morning. He was greeted in the clubhouse by Nats general manager Mike Rizzo and new teammate Gio Gonzalez, and then held court with reporters.
“I’m so happy to be here,” Soriano said. “I come here and [we will] see what happens the next two weeks. I want to be comfortable with everybody here and win this year. … I want to win. That’s all I’m here for.”
Soriano signed a two-year, $28 million free agent contract with Washington this offseason after registering a fantastic 2.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 69/24 K/BB ratio across 67 2/3 innings last summer for the Yankees. The 33-year-old is expected to function as the Nationals’ primary ninth-inning man in 2013.
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.