Pirates extend GM Neal Huntington through 2015

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Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have signed GM Neal Huntington to a three-year contract extension with a club option for 2015. As is often the case with front-office deals, no financial details were disclosed.

Huntington was hired as the 12th general manager in franchise history on September 25, 2007, and has done a fine job of revamping the organization since taking over. The Pirates are improving their success rate on high draft picks, they’re more active on the international market, and they’ve begun putting a better product on the field at the major league level.

Huntington has misfired on a couple of trades, namely the Jason Bay swap, but the 42-year-old executive has also pumped $48 million into the draft over the past four years — by far the highest total in the major leagues. With a continued commitment to finding and cultivating young talent, the Pirates should be able to snap their streak of consecutive losing seasons by the time Huntington’s freshly inked deal expires.

The Pirates are also expected to retain director of player development Kyle Stark, director of scouting Greg Smith and director of baseball operations Tyrone Brooks. Bucs manager Clint Hurdle is signed through 2014.

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.