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Report: Tampa Bay Rays Keeping Tabs on Kelvim Escobar

This information coming way of a few Jerry Crasnick Tweets. He lead off with:

Kelvim Escobar received positive report from Dr. David Altchek Tuesday. He might pitch a few innings in Venezuelan winter ball in December.


Then quickly continued:

If not, Escobar could audition for clubs in January. Mets, Rays, Yankees, Mariners, Brewers and O's among clubs keeping tabs on him.

The reported interest itself is new, but the concept is not. Tommy outlined why Escobar would make for an intriguing bullpen target here, surmising Escobar as a potentially useful risk worth taking given his track record of success and relationship with Joe Maddon. Escobar isn't a failed starter forced into the bullpen either. As Tommy noted:

As you can see, he's just a good pitcher. As a starter he allows less home runs and slightly less walks, but as a reliever he strikes out over two and a half more batters per nine. Looking at the second set of statistics, it's amazing to me how similar they are given the two completely different roles. Batters get on-base exactly the same whether he's a starter or a reliever and the slugging is almost identical. The BABIP is almost also similar meaning there isn't much "luck" involved. Of course there's over 1,000 innings difference between the two, but still pretty amazing. Equally impressive is his ability get out hitters regardless of their handedness.

Ideally, you can find someone with more than five innings under their belt the last two seasons and some will point to Troy Percival and Jason Isringhausen as examples of why targeting often-injured relievers is a waste of time, but Escobar's lacking health is really the only reason the Rays can reasonably afford him. This is a guy with an xFIP since 2002 around 4 despite spending all of his time in the American League and a history of success as a starter or reliever.