Some potentially bad news for the Braves: catcher Evan Gattis left last night’s game against the Phillies in the first inning with back spasms. He appeared to tweak something during his at-bat in the first inning and was replaced by Gerald Laird for the bottom half of the inning.
Gattis is listed as day-to-day. For what it’s worth, manager Fredi Gonzalez is optimistic:
“If he DLs, it’s going to be 15 days without him. And [head trainer Jeff Porter] doesn’t seem to think it’s going to be that long. So we’re not thinking about that move right now . . . he assured me that this could clear up in the next day or two.”
Of course Gonzalez is also optimistic that B.J. Upton is a leadoff hitter, so who knows.
Gattis is hitting .290/.342/.558 with 16 homers on the season.
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.