ESPN’s Buster Olney heard from Scott Boras today and quoted the agent as saying that Johnny “Damon will be signed by May 1st; just don’t know where.”
Olney also said that Damon is looking for at least 450 plate appearances, which would be enough to get him at least 100 hits closer to 3,000. Damon is sitting at 2,723 hits right now.
There’s been much speculation that Damon’s quest for 3,000 has made him a less attractive option as a free agent, but while it’s true that Damon is no star, he’d be an upgrade for several teams in left field or at DH. He hit .261/.326/.417 with 16 homers, 73 RBI and 19 steals for the Rays last season. With Tropicana Field playing as such a pitcher’s park lately, that was good for a 110 OPS+. It’s surprising the Indians haven’t made a play for him, given their interest in a pretty similar player in Bobby Abreu.
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.