Rumor: Twins interested in Nationals closer Matt Capps

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Tim Kurkjian of ESPN.com reports that the Twins are interested in Nationals closer Matt Capps, which along with yesterday’s report that they’re talking to the Blue Jays about various relievers makes it pretty clear that Minnesota is in the market for bullpen help.
It’s tough to find anyone who has any sort of confidence in Jon Rauch as a closer, but he’s actually done a very good job filling in for the injured Joe Nathan by converting 20-of-24 saves with a 3.22 ERA and 26/9 K/BB ratio in 36.1 innings.
Capps has a longer history of closing and I’m sure that’s what the Twins find appealing about him, but he’s hardly a prototypical flame-throwing closer and hasn’t really been any better than Rauch with a 2.86 ERA and 36/9 K/BB ratio in 44 innings.
Beyond that the Twins’ bullpen as a whole has hardly been a problem this year. In fact, Twins relievers lead the league with a 3.17 ERA and haven’t been particularly overworked, ranking in the middle of the pack in innings and appearances.
Capps certainly wouldn’t be a bad addition and pushing Rauch back into a setup role would only make the overall bullpen stronger, but Kurkjian speculates that the Nationals will ask the Twins for top catching prospect Wilson Ramos in exchange for Capps and … well, that would just be silly.

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.