Rockies tell Ian Stewart “we’re not going to trade you”

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Last week manager Jim Tracy told reporters that Ian Stewart was “either going to play his way in or play his way off the team” and then yesterday, after benching him for two of the four games since, the Rockies demoted Stewart back to Triple-A.

Even before the latest demotion to the minors I wrote that Colorado shopping Stewart made sense for both sides if they no longer believed in the 26-year-old third baseman because of 50 bad plate appearances following three productive seasons.

Sending a 26-year-old with a .761 OPS in 405 games as a big leaguer to Triple-A for the second time this season seemingly made a trade even more likely, but Stewart told Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post that the Rockies don’t have that in their plans:

They said, “We’re not going to trade you.” They still feel like I can be a big part of the organization. But it’s like Tracy said, it’s time to fish or cut bait, so we’ll see. I don’t get the sense they’re just ready to let me go at the snap of a finger. I get the sense they still believe in me and they feel like I can help this organization out this year.

Hopefully it goes the right way because I don’t want to go anywhere else. This is where all my friends are. It’s everything I know.

All of which sounds good in theory, except the Rockies have now demoted Stewart to Triple-A twice this season and he’s only had a total of 53 plate appearances in the majors. No matter how much he’s struggled in those 53 plate appearances–and he’s been terrible, to be sure–that’s certainly not an example of believing in a player or even giving him a chance to “fish or cut bait.”

Asking a 26-year-old veteran to knock around Triple-A pitching in between sporadic playing time in the majors isn’t doing much of anything, so perhaps the Rockies should take their own “fish or cut bait” advice with Stewart.

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.