The Yankees designated David Aardsma for assignment

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The Yankees began to put the finishing touches on their Opening Day roster yesterday by choosing Shawn Kelley for a bullpen spot over David Aardsma, who was designated for assignment.

According to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Aardsma “didn’t really fit” with the team’s bullpen, as they wanted someone who could provide multiple innings at a time. Kelley threw more than one inning in 12 of his 47 appearances with the Mariners last season.

Aardsma has only pitched in one game in the majors over the past two seasons following a hip injury and Tommy John surgery, but he had a 3.52 ERA and 7/2 K/BB ratio over 7 2/3 innings this spring and finally appears to be healthy. The 31-year-old right-hander posted a 2.90 ERA and 69 saves with the Mariners from 2009-2010, so someone figures to take a chance on him. He’s set to make $500,000 in 2013.

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.