Carlos Zambrano is in the best shape of his life

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Our friend Nick Collias of MLBTR has been reading the Venezuelan newspapers and he passes along word from Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes that Carlos Zambrano is either (a) getting into the best shape of his life; or (b) getting ready to fight Ivan Drago in Moscow on Christmas Day:

“I’m preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape. I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I’m not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors.”

Back door out of the clubhouse in the middle of a game in which he pitched poorly, however, is another story.

In other news, apparently Zambrano participated in the Venezuelan home run derby, called the “Festival de Home Run Pepsi.” Which is great. Zambrano hit one homer and didn’t advance.  The winner was Luis Jimenez, a 10-year minor leaguer currently in the Mariners system. He beat out guys like Pablo Sandoval Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones and Miguel Montero.

I hope Zambrano sticks with the Cubs or latches on someplace. I’m gonna be bored if I can’t write about him next season.

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.