Cardinals top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was limited to 46 games last season at Triple-A Memphis because of a severe right ankle injury that eventually required surgery. He was ordered to take it easy this winter so that the damage could fully heal. Now that Cardinals camp has opened in Jupiter, Florida, the hard-swinging 21-year-old is ready to be unleashed.
Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Taveras did “extensive running Wednesday” for the first time since last summer’s ankle procedure and reported no physical limitations. “He’s been working hard, doing a lot of short movements, explosive movements,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “This should lead him to being ready to go.”
Taveras is a .320/.377/.518 hitter in over 1,500 career minor league plate appearances.
He could be a secret weapon this summer for an already-loaded St. Louis squad.
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.