Twins open to trading Denard Span, not Josh Willingham

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The Twins lost 99 games last year. This year, they’re on pace to lose 96. Their minor league system boasts one potential star in Miguel Sano but is otherwise probably among the weakest in the game. Maybe cashing in the 33-year-old outfielder with a history of back problems wouldn’t be such a bad idea?

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Twins aren’t listening on Josh Willingham, though. They will consider moving Denard Span, who is five years younger but who could be replaced in center field by Ben Revere.

Given their place in the standings, the Twins really should be open to moving anyone. No one is going to make a big offer for Joe Mauer’s huge contract, so he stays. However, everyone else — Justin Morneau included — should be able to be had.

Willingham has been outstanding with his .272/.384/.535 line and 49 RBI this year, and given that he’s just in the first year of a three-year, $21 million contract, it’s understandable that the Twins wouldn’t want to part with him. Still, his value probably won’t ever be higher, and it’s doubtful the Twins are going to win with him next year. By the time 2014 rolls around, Willingham will be 35 and probably won’t be the same player. If they can get two quality prospects for him now, they should pull the trigger.

Span is hitting .277/.341/.396 this season, which should give his trade value a modest boost. The Nationals have often been mentioned in connection with him, and a deal involving him and closer Drew Storen was discussed last year. The Twins still might be interested in such a trade once Storen returns from minor elbow surgery next month. The Marlins are another team that could pursue Span.

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.