Terry Francona to replace Bobby Valentine on Sunday Night Baseball

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Three cheers for awkward trades. ESPN just announced during the Monday Night Football halftime show that Terry Francona will indeed replace Bobby Valentine in the broadcast booth for Sunday Night Baseball alongside Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser. He’ll also make appearances on Baseball Tonight, starting later this evening.

Francona was fired as Red Sox manager following the season and received positive reviews when he subbed for Tim McCarver during FOX’s coverage of the ALCS. He met with FOX after failing to land another managing gig this winter, but was reportedly in talks with ESPN as recently as a few days ago.

While I’m looking forward to seeing Francona in the broadcast booth on a regular basis next season, his tenure there doesn’t figure to be a long one. He’ll likely be mentioned for every prominent managerial opening next offseason.

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.