Veteran shortstop Erick Aybar signed a Minor League deal with the Minnesota Twins on Friday. The deal comes with a potential $1.25 Million if Aybar reaches the Major Leagues. The 34-year-old will receive additional incentives based on plate appearances (if he makes the club). Aybar will also be given the option to opt out of his contract on March 27.
Aybar will be competing for a utility spot this Spring Training. Erick Aybar will now join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and might even take over for Miguel Sano at third base to begin the season. It is unknown whether Sano will be starting the season with problems with his health, weight and an assault investigation.
Erick Aybar is now 4-years removed from his 2014 career year with the Los Angeles Angels (the year that the Halos had the best record in baseball). While he has been steadily declining over the course of the last 3-years, Aybar is looking for a breakout year in 2018 in order to get a better deal in the 2018-19 offseason (this one-year deal will make him a free agent after this season). In the last three seasons, Aybar has hit .253/.301/.335 and averaged just under 500 plate appearances.
After spending 10 years in California with the Los Angeles Angels, Aybar spent time with the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers in 2016 and was a San Diego Padre in 2017.
In 2017, Aybar hit an adequate .234/.300/.348 with 7 home runs, 11 stolen bases, 78 hits, 37 runs, and an OPS+ of 74 (100 is league average) in 370 plate appearances for the San Diego Padres. A fractured left foot cost him close to 6-weeks on the disabled list which certainly didn’t help.
The Minnesota Twins surprised everyone in 2017 by squeaking out a second Wild Card spot (over my beloved Angels) after losing more than 100 games in 2016 (becoming the first team to accomplish such a feat). The Twins have a relatively young team, and Aybar will bring a veteran presence to their infield (if he makes the team) as they push for another playoff berth.
This is a very low-risk-high-reward deal for the Minnesota Twins, who will now have a solid utility infielder with an average bat. If Aybar proves that he still has enough left in the tank, the Twins will get him for low cost in 2018, and if not, they can just send him back down to the dreaded Minor Leagues.