I saw the “Feliz won’t be saved for saves” headline on ESPNDallas.com and thought maybe Rangers manager Ron Washington had finally figured out how to get value out of closer Neftali Feliz in non-save situations after repeatedly leaving him in the bullpen in key non-save moments throughout the playoffs.
Turns out, it’s just more of the same with a clever-looking headline, as Randy Jennings reports that Washington has now taken to using Feliz to close out four-run leads.
As the manager explained: “I’m trying to win a game. … I’m going to get the ball to him and let’s go home.”
Washington has yet to show that he’ll find more work for Feliz by bringing him into, say, a tie game or game in which the Rangers trail by one run–you know, the crucial non-save situations that can decide a game–but is now using him in even lower-leverage spots. I’m sure the Rangers’ winning percentage with a four-run lead in the ninth inning will skyrocket from 99.4 percent to 99.6 percent, though.
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.