As expected, the Yankees have failed to reach an agreement with Hiroyuki Nakajima after bidding $2 million for exclusive negotiating rights to the Japanese infielder.
Technically their 30-day window to sign Nakajima doesn’t close until tomorrow, but there’s no time for him to fly to New York to undergo a physical exam anyway and general manager Brian Cashman issued a statement ruling out a deal.
In failing to sign Nakajima the Yankees will be refunded the $2 million posting fee. Nakajima is a career .302 hitter in Japan who batted .297 with 16 homers and 21 steals last season, but expectations for his transition to the majors were very modest and he projected as a utility man.
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.