Braden Looper retires

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According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, Braden Looper retired earlier today after being informed that he wouldn’t make the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.

Looper didn’t pitch in the major leagues last season, but signed a minor league contract in January that could have earned him up to $3 million with incentives. The 36-year-old right-hander posted a 9.95 ERA and 8/3 K/BB ratio over 12 2/3 innings this spring.

“After taking a year off, he came in and gave it a good shot,” general manager Jim Hendry said. “We just felt in the end he wasn’t going to be able to break with the 12 (pitchers). He had an outstanding career and it really was a good, sound idea. I’m glad we did it.

“He handled himself like a true professional, was very helpful to the young pitchers in camp and was very appreciative of the opportunity and certainly understood why he couldn’t break with the (team).”

Looper calls it a career with a 72-65 record, a 4.15 ERA and 103 saves over parts of 12 major league seasons with the Brewers, Cardinals, Mets and Marlins. He won a career-high 14 games with the Brewers in 2009, despite posting a 5.22 ERA and leading the majors with 39 homers allowed over 194 2/3 innings.

Why so negative? OK, sorry, maybe I’m still a little bitter about this. Enjoy your retirement, Braden.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a 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.