Barry Zito was left off the playoff roster for all three rounds of the Giants’ championship run in 2010 despite throwing 199 innings with a 4.15 ERA during the regular season.
He has very similar numbers this season, throwing 172 innings with a 4.18 ERA, but manager Bruce Bochy said yesterday that he plans to include Zito on the postseason roster.
According to Bochy “the plan now” is to have all five starters on the roster, which means Zito will join Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, and the suddenly struggling Ryan Vogelsong. Only three or maybe four of those guys will actually be needed to start playoff games, so presumably Zito will be around strictly as a long reliever or mop-up man.
He has six career relief appearances, four of them coming last season, but low-leverage bullpen work beats not even being on the roster for a guy with a $126 million contract.
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.