Royals sign Jeff Francoeur to two-year, $13.5 million extension

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UPDATE: The new deal is worth $13.5 million for two seasons.

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Credit where it is due. Jeff Francoeur is having a better season than anyone — especially me — thought he would. He’s hitting .278/.328/.465 with 15 homers and 66 RBI and he’s playing his usual above-average defense. That’s more than useful in the Majors these days, and it has now earned him a two-year contract extension with the Royals.

We don’t have the terms yet, but the Royals were soon going to have to make a decision on his $4 million mutual option for 2012.  I would assume that he’s going to get something north of that for both 2012 and 2013, rewarding him for his good play, but not putting the team on the hook for a full $4 million in 2012.

In other news, I hear that with the new contract under his belt, Francoeur will have a newly found confidence entering next season, which should help with his plate discipline, allowing him to become the superstar we always knew he would be.

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.