Team USA’s lineup for first WBC exhibition game

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For anyone into the World Baseball Classic, here’s the Team USA lineup for today’s pre-WBC tuneup game against the White Sox:

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
3. Ryan Braun, DH
4. Joe Mauer, C
5. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
6. Mark Teixeira, 1B
7. David Wright, 3B
8. Adam Jones, CF
9. Shane Victorino, LF

Like many managers, Joe Torre likes speedy guys atop the lineup even if they don’t do a particularly good job getting on base. Rollins and Phillips had .316 and .321 on-base percentages last season, so they aren’t exactly ideal table-setters. Mauer, who got on base at a .416 clip last year while hitting just 10 homers in 147 games, is batting cleanup, which he hasn’t done for the Twins since 2006.

Breaking down batting orders for an exhibition game before an exhibition tournament seems like probably the biggest waste of time in the world, but … I dunno, it seemed a little interesting to me.

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.