The injury-ravaged Rangers received yet more bad news on Friday, when they learned that first baseman Prince Fielder has a herniated C5-C6 disc in his neck. The Rangers placed Fielder on the 15-day disabled list, but he could undergo season-ending surgery to fix the injury.
Looking to fill the void with Fielder out, the Rangers will go back to Mitch Moreland at first base. They’ve also been scoping out available players, one of which is Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore. Via MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:
[…] the Rangers are in need of a first baseman and they have inquired about Nationals first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore, according to a baseball source.
The source indicated that nothing is serious and the Rangers have a long list of first basemen they have interest in.
Moore and Moreland would make for a decent platoon given their last names. However, over 420 big league plate appearances, Moore has a reverse platoon split which means he has hit same-handed pitching better than opposite-handed pitching. Against right-handers, Moore has a .734 OPS and against lefties, he has a .679 OPS.
Moore has been filling in for the injured Adam LaRoche, but LaRoche made his return to the Nationals’ lineup on Sunday afternoon. As a result, Moore will see his playing time diminish, making him expendable.
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.