With spring training right around the corner Jason Varitek doesn’t have a job and agent Scott Boras said yesterday that the 40-year-old catcher “is deliberating what he wants to do.”
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe makes it clear that “there’s no room on the Red Sox roster for him” after they signed Kelly Shoppach to platoon with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and speculates that Varitek is pondering retirement after 14 seasons.
Ivan Rodriguez also remains unsigned, so Varitek may not even be a team’s main emergency target if a catcher gets hurt during spring training. Varitek hit .221 with a .300 on-base percentage and .423 slugging percentage in 68 games last season, which is actually right around average production for a catcher, but he also threw out just 14 percent of steal attempts as teams ran wild on him.
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.