It’s one step forward, one step back for the Blue Jays.
While Josh Johnson is expected to return on Tuesday, the Blue Jays just announced that Brandon Morrow has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain.
Morrow left Tuesday’s start against the Braves after two innings with the injury. The Blue Jays were initially hoping that he would be able to bounce back to pitch tomorrow against the Padres, but it turns out that he’ll need some more time to recover.
Morrow is off to a disappointing start this season, posting a 5.63 ERA and 42/18 K/BB ratio in 54 1/3 innings over 10 starts. Toronto’s starters rank 28th in the majors with a 5.50 ERA. Only the Astros and Twins have been worse.
With Morrow out, the Blue Jays have brought back Ramon Ortiz to replace him on the active roster. In doing so, they removed left-hander Ricky Romero from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple-A Buffalo. This means that he passed through waivers unclaimed. Of course, that shouldn’t be a big surprise at this point, as he has a brutal 13.85 ERA and 3/20 K/BB ratio through four starts in Triple-A and is still owed around $19 million. But it’s the latest indication about how far he’s fallen.
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.