Jason Kubel returns to the Twins on minor league deal

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Jason Kubel left Minnesota to sign a two-year, $16 million deal with Arizona following the 2011 season, but after one good year and one bad year Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that he’s returning to the Twins on a minor-league deal.

At this point in his career Kubel should really be a platoon designated hitter, which would keep him from having to play defense or face left-handed pitching, but the Twins already have a few guys who fit those descriptions.

Kubel hit just .216 with five homers and a .610 OPS in 97 games for the Diamondbacks and Indians for by far the worst numbers of his career at age 31, but in 2012 he batted .253 with 30 homers and an .833 OPS.

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.