UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that the Tigers are looking like the front-runners to sign Penny.
8:30 PM: Brad Penny just cut out the middleman and gave us the latest update on his job search via his Twitter account.
“Getting close to finding my new home. Should know by the end of the day.”
Penny, 32, posted went 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA and 35/9 K/BB ratio over his first nine starts with the Cardinals last season before suffering a season-ending lat injury in May.
It’s not clear who the front-runner might be here, but we have heard Penny mentioned most often in connection with the Tigers this winter. Of course, his previous stint in the American League didn’t go so well. He went 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA and 89/42 K/BB ratio over 131 2/3 innings with the Red Sox in 2009.
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.