A source tells Boston-based writer Maureen Mullen that the Phillies could be interested in signing Jason Varitek as a backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz.
How seriously should we take this one? Hard to say. Unless the Phillies find a taker for Brian Schneider’s $1.5 million contract for next season, it doesn’t sound like a very realistic fit.
Varitek, who turns 39 next April, batted .232/.293/.473 with seven homers and 16 RBI in 112 at-bats this past season and was 9-for-43 (21 percent) in throwing out would-be basestealers. The veteran backstop was limited to just five games and 17 at-bats after the All-Star break due to a broken right foot.
It’s very possible that his 14-year run in Boston is over, but Peter Gammons of MLB.com presented a scenario this week where Jarrod Saltalammachia and Varitek could be a tandem behind the plate next season if Victor Martinez signs elsewhere this winter. Yeah, that wouldn’t make anybody nervous or anything.
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.