Injuries to Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit, and Jason Jaramillo left the Pirates so short on catching depth that they had to trade for 26-year-old career minor leaguer Michael McKenry and make him the starter.
McKenry has predictably hit just .256 with a measly .642 OPS in 37 games, but his reign as the primary catcher is likely over with Doumit returning from the disabled list today after missing the past two months with an ankle injury.
Under normal circumstances the Pirates prefer to play Doumit in the outfield because his defense behind the plate leaves something to be desired, but they’ll gladly use him at catcher right now and hope the offensive upgrade from McKenry makes it a worthwhile move.
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.