At the beginning of the year (and for much of last year) the Mets hemmed and hawed over first base. They seemed to want Ike Davis to fulfill the promise he showed a couple of seasons ago, but Lucas Duda had flashed some nice power potential here and there over the past couple of years too, so at least they had options. Eventually they decided it just wasn’t happening for Davis so they bit the bullet and shipped him to Pittsburgh, going all-in with Duda.
Duda went 3 for 5 with two home runs and five RBI against the Dodgers yesterday, continuing his breakout season. He’s 8 for his last 23 with five home runs, 11 RBI and seven runs scored. For the year he has 26 homes and a nifty line of .260/.355/.507. He’s among the league leaders in most power categories.
Duda is a year older than Davis, so it’s not as if they just stumbled on a future Hall of Famer here, but he’s definitely the sort of power bat that could very well fit with a contending team, and that’s something the Mets haven’t had for a good while.
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.