Erik Bedard would opt out of his deal with the Rays rather than go to Triple-A

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Erik Bedard is competing for a spot in the Rays’ rotation on a minor-league contract, but the 35-year-old left-hander said yesterday that he’ll use an opt-out clause rather than accept an assignment to Triple-A if he doesn’t win the job.

“There’s a lot of starters who have been hurt so there’s a lot of chances and I’ll probably go somewhere else,” Bedard told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Tribune. “Every day it seems like a starter goes down. There’s a lot of opportunities out there if I’m not on the team.”

Bedard makes a very fair point about injuries to starters across baseball creating plenty of opportunities to latch on elsewhere late in spring training, although the odds of a team picking him up with just days remaining until Opening Day and handing him a spot on the big-league roster seem very slim.

Bedard is competing for the fifth starter role with Cesar Ramos and Jake Odorizzi, and manager Joe Maddon indicated that sending him to the bullpen isn’t being considered as an option. Last year, in 26 starts and six relief appearances for the Astros, he threw 151 innings with a 4.59 ERA and 138/75 K/BB ratio.

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.