Blue Jays pick Eric Thames in left field, send down Travis Snider

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Travis Snider performed well enough to win the Blue Jays’ starting job in left field this spring. Unfortunately for him, Eric Thames played well enough to hold on to it.

Snider was sent packing Sunday despite his four homers and 16 RBI in 17 games this spring. He was hitting .271/.340/.625, though he did strike out 17 times in 48 at-bats.

Thames, the favorite going in, wasn’t bad himself, hitting .333/.380/.511. He has just one homer, but he has doubled five times in 45 at-bats.

Since both Snider and Thames were left-handed hitters, there was only room for one of them on the squad. The Jays are set to carry right-handed hitters Ben Francisco and Rajai Davis as backup outfielders. Francisco likely will pick up a lot of starts in left field against southpaws.

Snider just turned 24 last month, which is easy to forget considering that he’s already spent parts of four seasons in the majors. His successful spring means the Jays probably won’t consider selling him off for a lesser prospect yet, but his next chance in Toronto will probably be his last. He’ll be out of options after this year, so there won’t be any more sending him back to the minors come 2013.

As for Thames, he was the safer choice of the two. The 25-year-old hit a respectable .262/.313/.456 with 12 homers in 362 at-bats last season. However, that did come with 88 strikeouts, a total that only seems modest when compared to Snider’s lofty strikeout numbers. He lacks Snider’s upside, but the Jays are going to hit him ninth most days and he’ll certainly be a much bigger threat in that spot than most teams can boast.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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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.