Publicly at least the Tigers have been saying good things about Miguel Cabrera’s transition back to third base this spring and yesterday manager Jim Leyland took it a step further by reiterating that Cabrera will not be removed from regular season games in the late innings for a better defender.
“He’s the third baseman,” Leyland told Jason Beck of MLB.com. “That’s the way it is and I’m not ‘defensing’ for him. I’ve seen that too many times.”
Leyland is referring to the times when an excellent hitter is removed from the game for a better defender only to have his lineup spot come to the plate again in a key spot, which is most often an issue during the playoffs when over-managing is far more common.
Leyland sounds very committed to not taking Cabrera out of games defensively, but he’ll be tempted on a daily basis thanks to Brandon Inge and/or Ramon Santiago likely being on the bench most games.
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.