37-year-old Jason Kendall is back with the Royals this spring, but this time it’s as a special assignment coach helping to work with the team’s catchers. After his latest shoulder surgery in November, his future as a player looks bleak, the Kansas City Star reports.
“Can I play again?” Kendall asked. “I don’t know. I’m going to give it a shot. Is it going to be this year? No, probably not. But who knows? I’m in uncharted waters…This job might be something that I enjoy.”
Kendall hasn’t played since 2010, but he collected a nice $3.75 million salary from the Royals last year anyway. He estimated his chances of making it back to the majors at “five percent.”
If Kendall is done, he’ll finish his career with a .288/.366/.378 line, 75 homers and 744 RBI in 2,085 games. It’s easy to forget now, but he was an outstanding player his first five years in the league before injuries robbed him of both his speed and power (he hit .314/.402/.456 in 2,294 at-bats through age 26). Even so, he managed to hang on for 15 years and he currently ranks fifth all-time in games caught at 2,025.
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.