Report: Cuban umpire Diaz defects to U.S.

Leave a comment

El Nuevo Herald is reporting that Nelson Diaz, an umpire for 26 years in Cuba, has defected to the U.S. and arrived in Miami on Sunday.
Diaz was behind the plate when Cuba sent a team to Baltimore for an exhibition against the Orioles in 1999. He also worked in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympics, but Cuba didn’t pick him for the 2009 WBC because of fears he would defect.
Based on his experience, Diaz is obviously qualified to join MLB’s umpiring roster, though it’s unclear if any spots are opening up over the winter. MLB has incredibly little turnover when it comes to umpires.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.