Orioles monitoring rehab of free agent Gavin Floyd

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Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun passes along this inside scoop:

The Orioles have some interest in free agent right-hander Gavin Floyd and have been monitoring his progress as he recovers from elbow surgery, according to industry sources.

The 30-year-old Floyd, who starred at Mount St. Joseph’s before being selected by the Philadelphia Phillies with the fourth overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft, underwent Tommy John surgery in May, when he also had a torn flexor tendon repaired.

The initial thought after Floyd underwent those dual elbow surgeries was that he’d need two full years of recovery time, but his agent Mike Moye told MLB Trade Rumors on Tuesday that Floyd is aiming to begin pitching off a mound by early-December and could be at full strength by Opening Day. Of course, an agent’s job is to provide a favorable client profile.

Floyd, a native of Annapolis, Maryland, just finished up a seven-year run with the Chicago White Sox during which he registered a 4.22 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 7.1 K/9 across 168 starts (1,042 2/3 total innings).

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.