Brian Roberts has spent nearly his entire career as a leadoff man, hitting there in 93 percent of his 1,200 starts, but the Orioles have decided to shift him to the bottom of the lineup as he comes back from multiple concussions.
Roberts took the demotion well, basically saying that he’s happy to simply be feeling healthy for the first time in years and understands at age 35 a less prominent role would probably make sense regardless of health.
Of course, if Roberts returns to anything resembling his old form–which included a .364 on-base percentage and 35 steals per 150 games from 2004-2010–the Orioles will want him back atop the lineup soon enough. For now though he’ll bat ninth for the first time since 2004.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.