Nationals interested in Jerry Hairston Jr. as replacement for Willie Harris

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Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals will not be re-signing Willie Harris, who spent the past three seasons in Washington, and are interesting in signing Jerry Hairston Jr. as his utility man replacement.

Harris and Hairston are pretty similar, with Hairston perhaps bringing a bit more defensive value to the table, and Ladson notes that the Nationals could view him as a fallback option at second base should rookie Danny Espinosa falter.

Along those same lines, Ladson speculates that the Nationals could have renewed interest in David Eckstein after failing to follow up on some talks with the veteran infielder early in the offseason. Eckstein, like Hairston, would serve as an experienced backup behind the young middle infield duo of Espinosa and Ian Desmond.

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.