Ron Gardenhire signs two-year extension with Twins

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UPDATE: It’s official. Gardenhire gets a two-year deal and his entire coaching staff keeps their jobs.

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There’s a press conference scheduled for 2:30 central time this afternoon at which the Twins are expected to make an announcement about Ron Gardenhire’s job status. Locally here in Minnesota just about everyone has been assuming Gardenhire will be back and sure enough Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that he’s returning on a new two-year contract.

Gardenhire finished among the top three in Manager of the Year voting seven times in his first nine seasons, winning the award in 2010, but since then the Twins have gone 195-291 (.401) with three consecutive 95-plus loss seasons. Very few managers in baseball history have hung onto their jobs following that sort of sustained losing, but if ever there was a team to display that much loyalty it’s certainly the Twins and general manager Terry Ryan (who himself was brought back into the fold after stepping down from the job previously).

Gardenhire is the second-longest tenured manager in baseball with 12 seasons in Minnesota, going 998-947 (.513) overall.

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.