When you sign a three-year, $27 million deal to serve as a team’s closer you tend to get plenty of chances and not surprisingly Ozzie Guillen is ready to give Heath Bell another crack at the Marlins’ closer role.
Bell hasn’t gotten a save opportunity since coughing up three runs to blow a game against the Cardinals on July 8, at which point he was 19-for-25 converting saves with a 6.75 ERA and 32/20 K/BB ratio in 35 innings.
Since then Bell has logged 10 consecutive scoreless appearances, throwing a total of nine innings with an 8/3 K/BB ratio and .107 opponents’ batting average.
“That was his job,” Guillen told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “He wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do and we made that decision. Right now, I think he’s pitched good enough to get back to the closer role.”
Fill-in close Steve Cishek has pitched plenty well all season with a 1.74 ERA in 47 innings, but this isn’t really about Cishek. It’s about Bell, Bell’s contract, and the fact that the Marlins owe him another $20 million or so through 2014.
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.