UPDATE: The Indians replacing Mark Shapiro as GM

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UPDATE: OK, so it wasn’t Manny Acta’s hat. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting — albeit a bit speculatively — that the presser is to announce that Indians’ assistant GM Chris Antonetti is going to replace Mark Shapiro as GM, who will get kicked upstairs to be the team’s president.  The change, however, would not take place until after the 2010 season.

This is odd. Not the choice — Antonetti is well-regarded by almost everyone who knows his work — but the timing.  If the Indians really wanted to can promote Shapiro, they would have or at least should have done it at the end of 2009. As it was they had a lame duck making all the moves this winter. Another possibility: The team wants to lock in Antonetti — who has been a candidate for a handful of other openings in the past couple of years — before any vacancies open up elsewhere this year and the chatter starts again.

Either way, it puts just about everything the Indians have done this winter — and everything they will do this season — in a new light. 

8:32 A.M.:  OK, that was quick. Castrovince now tweetsNo way it’s Russell Branyan-related.” So Acta-hats it is. 

8:28 A.M.: MLB.com’s Indians beat guy Anthony Castrovince tweets that the Tribe has called a press conference for 1:30 PM Eastern.  I’m assuming this is regarding Russell Branyan — who the Indians have offered a minor league deal — if for no other reason than because the Indians haven’t been rumored to be courting anyone else. 

I suppose there are other potential reasons for a press conference — maybe Manny Acta got a new hat or something — but until I hear otherwise I’m going to assume it’s Branyan.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to 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.