Twins demote Nick Blackburn and his 8.10 ERA to Triple-A

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Nick Blackburn has one-and-half seasons and $8 million remaining on the contract extension the Twins misguidedly gave him in March of 2010, but today Minnesota sent the 30-year-old veteran and his 131 career starts to Triple-A.

Blackburn was never a particularly good bet to sustain long-term success because of his miniscule strikeout rate, but injuries have eliminated whatever thin margin for error he already had and basically turned him into a batting practice pitcher.

Since signing the contract extension he’s started 65 games with a 5.51 ERA and 4.2 strikeouts per nine innings while allowing opponents to hit .309 with a .500 slugging percentage.

Career minor leaguer Casey Fien has replaced Blackburn on the roster, but the Twins haven’t said yet who’ll take over his rotation spot.

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.