Jackie Bradley Jr. expected to make Opening Day roster with Red Sox

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There’s nothing official yet, but after weeks of debate about the pros and cons, it looks like top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. will break camp with the Red Sox.

According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Ryan Sweeney was told after tonight’s Grapefruit League game against the Twins that he will not be added to the 40-man roster. As a result, Boston’s final two roster spots are expected to go to Mike Carp and Bradley.

Bradley entered spring training as a major long shot to win a roster spot, but things changed in a hurry due to a combination of his excellent play and David Ortiz’s absence from the lineup. The 22-year-old had an RBI single in tonight’s game and is hitting .441 (26-for-59) with two home runs, four doubles, one triple and 12 RBI in 26 games this spring. Barring a last-minute change, Bradley figures to play left field while Jonny Gomes will fill in for Ortiz out of the DH spot. Things could obviously change once Ortiz is back to full health, but it’s going to be tough to send Bradley down if he keeps producing.

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.