The Brewers have reportedly come to terms on a minor league deal with right handed pitcher Kelvim Escobar. The former Angel and Blue Jay has not pitched in the MLB since 2009, and even then just barely. That year he had just one start in the majors and one start in the minors.
Most recently, Escobar has been pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League. He hasn't been outstanding, walking nine and striking out eight in just eleven innings of work. He has managed to keep runs off the board thus far and has posted a 1.64 ERA though a matching 1.64 WHIP betrays the struggles he has shown keeping hitters off the basepaths.
It's not entirely unexpected that Escobar would struggle. He tore his right shoulder in 2008 and missed that whole season before tearing the same shoulder in the 2009 offseason after signing with the Mets. It appears the Venezuelan League is his first competitive action since then, which likens this more to a rehab stint in the minor leagues.
There is no risk in this deal for the Brewers. A minor league contract is about as minimal as it gets for a deal and if he shows up to spring training looking good, he could certainly help strengthen the team's bullpen. Escobar has pitcher as both a starter and reliever in the past, but it appears the Brewers are targeting him for a bullpen role. That makes sense as fewer innings should put less strength on his oft-injured shoulder. Escobar has, of course, foungd past success. He had a 3.60 ERA and 2.63 K/BB ratio from 2004-2007 with the Angels(almost entirely as a starter, though). Again, it's a low risk, low reward move. There is an overwhelming probability that he pitches unspectacularly through camp and you rarely hear his name until he is cut. But just maybe he will earn a spot on the 25 man roster.
Fun fact: Former Brewer Alcides Escobar and Kelvim Escobar are first cousins.
Meanwhile the Brewers have also reportedly come to an agreement with Chris Narveson on a one year deal. This allows the two sides to avoid arbitration.
Narveson is poised to reclaim a spot in the Brewers rotation after missing most of 2012 after tearing the rotator cuff in his throwing arm. He had been more or less a mainstay in the rotation the previous two seasons, starting 28 games in both 2011 and 2010 and maintaining a 4.73 ERA between them. The advanced stats like him better as Narveson had a 4.22 FIP and 4.15 xFIP in 2010 and a 4.06 FIP and 4.07 xFIP in 2011.
Though Narveson has been anything but spectacular, the team is currently short on experienced starters. Yovani Gallardo anchors the rotation with Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers slotting behind him, but the fourth and fifth spots are up for grabs. Even Estrada and Fiers could certainly lose their spots with poor spring training performances. Narveson's experience and the Brewers familiarity with the left-hander should play into his favor.
If he does not perform, Narveson's contract shouldn't be too restricting. This was his first eligible year for arbitration and the numbers didn't favor him strongly. After making just $500,000 in 2012, this deal will likely be in the $0.9-1.2 million range, and probably on the lower end of that.
The Brewers now have four players remaining who are eligible for arbitration: John Axford, Burke Badenhop, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez