Wednesday, December 21, 2005
As expected, the Nationals non-tendered 2B Junior Spivey and IF Rick Short last night along with RP T.J. Tucker and OF Alex Escobar. Today, the Nationals re-signed Tucker and Escobar to minor league deals. In signing the minor league deals, the Nationals freed up two spots on their 40-man roster (the Nationals are presently at 36/40). Tucker's re-signing is a good gamble. He is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery completed in late June 2005. Prior to his injury, Tucker was a serviceable RH RP out of the bullpen. In his five years with the Nationals/Expos, he threw 228.67 IP with a 4.57ERA, 1.47WHIP, 5.5K/9IP, 2.9BB/9ip, and 1.1HR/9IP. Given a typical recovery period, Tucker should be expected back on the mound in mid to late July. Escobar's re-signing feels more like a move to validate his acquisition. Escobar was acquired from the Chicago White Sox by Jim Bowden in February of 2005 in exchange for minor league OF Jerry Owens. Escobar was once a highly touted prospect who has never lived up to the hype. Bowden coveted Escobar when he was GM in Cincinnati, nearly acquiring him in a deal with Mets involving Barry Larkin. Bowden finally got his wish acquiring him early in the spring for an underperforming minor league OF. At the time, Owens was a 23-year old who played the entire season with low-A Savannah (292/365/349). Once the trade was completed, everything went sour for Escobar who injured his foot and missed the 2005 season while Owens had a breakout season with AA Birmingham, batting 331/393/406, earning him a spot on the White Sox 40-man roster. The Nationals can only hope that 27-year old Escobar captures a fraction of his hype and becomes a #4/5 OF in the majors. But odds are he's settled into the role of yet another organizational player, something of which the Nationals are flush.