Last week the Tigers announced that Jhonny Peralta would start working out with the team again in preparation for potentially coming back from his 50-game suspension for the playoffs, but if he does rejoin the team apparently it won’t be at shortstop.
Peralta has been the Tigers’ starting shortstop for the past three seasons, starting zero games at another position, but rookie Jose Iglesias has been a huge defensive upgrade since being acquired from the Red Sox to fill in for Peralta. And so since Iglesias obviously isn’t going anywhere, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News reports that the Tigers will have Peralta play left field in instructional league games to prepare for his return
Peralta has never played the outfield before in 11 seasons as a big leaguer, but third base (Miguel Cabrera) and first base (Prince Fielder) aren’t options and Detroit could certainly use his right-handed bat in the lineup. Before the suspension Peralta hit .305 with 11 homers and an .822 OPS in 104 games, whereas the Tigers’ left fielders (mostly Andy Dirks, with some Nick Castellanos mixed in lately) have combined to hit .263 with a .718 OPS this season.
It’s also worth noting that Peralta is a 31-year-old impending free agent, so just in terms of market value he has quite a bit riding on whether teams still view him as a shortstop or not.
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.