”The fact is, it’s Jim’s job to decide which manager to bring in. But it’s about
winning, not about marketing.”
— Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, signaling to everyone that it is by no means a foregone conclusion that Ryne Sandberg will be the next Cubs manager.
Which is the right thing to say. The mistake, I think, would be to assume that hiring Ryne Sandberg is about marketing. There’s some of that there, obviously, but it’s also true that while I don’t think they’ll go all Florida Marlins on us and slash to the bone, the Cubs have tried to get younger this year. They’ve traded away Derrek Lee and others, they’ve called up Starling Castro and they will likely continue to tack in a rebuilding direction.
Sandberg has managed many of the players who will be a part of the team going forward and has experience with younger players overall. So while I agree with Ricketts that you can’t hire the big name just because he’s the big name, I really would be curious to hear the case against Sandberg on a purely merit basis.
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.