The Omar Vizquel Hall of Fame train is already chugging

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The guy isn’t even eligible yet, but people are already digging in on the next Hall of Fame war:

No reason to mention that in the context of his hiring as the Tigers first base coach, of course. Just some early scouting before the troops actually get to the battlefield. The pro-Vizquel crowd doesn’t want to be caught snoozing like they were with Jack Morris. Gotta come out of the gates strong to head off the Internet hordes.

My guess is that Vizquel, by virtue of his longevity and defensive excellence — and because he was nice and there’s a lot of “he’s our generation’s Luis Aparicio” stuff — will get into the Hall of Fame eventually. It won’t be the best induction ever. But in keeping with what I said about Jack Morris last week, it’s probably a battle best not fought too furiously.

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.