Joe Nathan shuns trade possibility, opts to stick with Twins

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Joe Nathan, who has full no-trade protection as a 10-year veteran who has spent the last five years with one team, has told the Twins he’d prefer to stay with the team rather than accept a deal to a contender, the Star-Tribune’s Joe Christensen reports.

No trade involving Nathan had been agreed to.  The Twins went and asked their closer whether he’d be interested in a deal and decided not to shop him when he said he wanted to stay.

“It seemed for the smart decision for us to say we’re not going to waive [the 10-and-5 rights],” Nathan said. “It’s nice to be here and have a chance to possibly be with this club again next year. We’ll see what that brings.”

Nathan has a 3.22 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings since coming off the DL at the end of June, so he could have been attractive to a few contenders as a possible eighth-inning guy down the stretch.  Still, his stuff isn’t what it was and it’s unlikely that he would have fetched a particularly high price in trade.

Plus, Nathan may well be right that his best bet heading into free agency was to stay with the Twins.  Minnesota’s warm, fuzzy feelings for him could well help him out in what’s going to be a market saturated with closers.

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.