Red Sox fans don’t seem to be terribly pleased with the team’s current shortstop options: Mike Aviles and Nick Punto. But Bobby Valentine is kind of cool with it:
“I’ve never seen any of the guys play except for Punto a little on television. We’ve got seven weeks together, we’ll practice together, we’ll play together, that will all work itself out,” Valentine said. “I think it’s always good for guys to get a chance to work and think they have a chance to make the team so they work a little harder.”
And maybe he should be. As Alex Speier of WEEI points out in a great column today, there is no reason to assume that a team can’t win a world championship with veterans, castoffs and glorified utility guys playing at short. Happens all the time, in fact.
If I had to guess I’d say that the Sox are going to keep close tabs on any shortstop who may become available as the season progresses. But really, there are worse things that can happen to be somewhat unsettled there. Like, you know, having a lot of question marks in the rotation.
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.