Various sources confirm that Oakland has secured exclusive negotiating rights with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that “the A’s winning bid was in the $15 million range.”
Oakland will pay that “posting fee” to Iwakuma’s team in Japan only if the two sides are able to agree on a contract and there’s a 30-day deadline for negotiations. Iwakuma does not get any of the posting fee, so he’s on his own to work out a separate deal.
Slusser speculates that signing Iwakuma would motivate the A’s to shop their various young starting pitchers, which means Vin Mazzaro, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden may soon be available “for a big bat.”
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.