Rockies close to free agent agreement with Jeff Francis

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From Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post comes word that the Rockies are “close to signing” lefty Jeff Francis “and he will likely start Saturday’s game when the Rockies host the Angels.”

Francis hasn’t appeared in a major league game this season and wasn’t very good in 2011 for Kansas City, but the Rox are desperate for starting pitching due to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness.

Francis asked for and was granted his release by Cincinnati earlier this week after posting a decent 3.72 ERA and 65/18 K/BB ratio across 77 1/3 innings (12 starts) for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky. The 31-year-old southpaw owns a 4.78 career ERA and 1.43 career WHIP in over 1,000 major league innings — 882 2/3 of which came with Colorado.

He’ll be accepting a minor league deal to rejoin a Rockies organization that picked him ninth overall in ’02.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to 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.