Angels discuss extensions with Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick

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Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick are both free agents after this season, but general manager Jerry Dipoto said today that the Angels have “begun to explore and will continue to explore” long-term contract extensions for their middle infield duo.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times classifies the talks as “preliminary discussions” and speculates that both Aybar and Kendrick would get at least $30 million over four seasons if extensions are reached.

Kendrick made $3.3 million last season while Aybar earned $3 million, but both players are in line for sizable raises via the arbitration process and four-year deals would buy out their first three seasons of free agency.

They’ve failed to develop into stars, but Aybar and Kendrick are each solidly above-average players at their positions and still under 30 years old, so four-year deals worth $30-35 million would certainly be sound investments for the Angels with relatively minimal risk.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.

Yankees activate Didi Gregorius from the disabled list

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The Yankees have activated shortstop Didi Gregorius from the 10-day disabled list, the club announced on Friday. Infielder Pete Kozma was designated for assignment to clear roster space.

Gregorius, 27, suffered a strained right shoulder while playing in the World Baseball Classic last month. He’s in Friday’s starting lineup, batting sixth against the Orioles.

Last season, Gregorius hit .276/.304/.447 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI in 597 plate appearances.