Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reports that Rangers manager Ron Washington is considering batting Nelson Cruz higher than seventh during the World Series against the Cardinals.
“I may make a change, I just don’t know where it’s going to be yet,” Washington said. Asked if moving Cruz up was under consideration, Washington said: “It’s a possibility.”
Cruz has batted seventh in all 10 postseason games thus far. He went just 1-for-15 during the ALDS against the Rays, but won the MVP during the ALCS by slugging six homers and driving in 13 runs.
While Cruz has certainly hit well enough to justify a change, there’s no obvious candidate to be bumped down in the order. Michael Young has batted exclusively out the cleanup spot during the postseason while Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli have followed him in the order. Ultimately, it’s a pretty nice problem to have.
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.