Jose Bautista has played exclusively right field this season and robbed Jordan Schafer of a home run out there earlier this week, but yesterday the Blue Jays announced that they’re moving him back to third base as soon as Monday.
Bautista started 45 games at third base last season and was initially slated to return there this year, but the Blue Jays decided during spring training to give Edwin Encarnacion a shot at the hot corner instead. That didn’t work out very well and Toronto third basemen have hit just .177 overall.
Top prospect Brett Lawrie would have gotten the call to step in at third base already, but he’s been slow to recover from a hand injury at Triple-A. In the meantime Bautista volunteered to play wherever the team needs him most and this move allows the Blue Jays to get another good bat like Travis Snider or Eric Thames into the lineup in the outfield.
Next month Bautista will start the All-Star game as an outfielder.
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.