Astros, Hunter Pence avoid arbitration

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The Astros have reached a middle ground with outfielder Hunter Pence, agreeing Saturday on a one-year, $3.5 million contract for 2010.  The talented 26-year-old requested $4.1 million and was offered $3.1 million when arbitration figures were exchanged on Tuesday.  He hit .282/.346/.472 last season with 25 home runs, 26 doubles, 72 RBI and 14 stolen bases.

The deal leaves the Astros with only two remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible players: left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak and left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez.  AOL Fanhouse’s Ed Price “tweeted” Friday that Houston management is “said to be unwilling to do multi-year deals with any of their
arbitration-eligible” players.  You know, just in case the fellas were wondering.  Fight on, Drayton McLane.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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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.