After agreeing to terms with Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa on a two-year, $9.5 million contract over the weekend, the Cubs plan to introduce him to the media tomorrow morning at Wrigley Field.
Fujikawa, 32, will receive a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $4 million for 2013 and 2014. His contract includes a vesting option for a third year at $5.5 million that can increase to $6 million based on games finished.
Mostly relying on a fastball/splitter combo, Fujikawa had a 1.77 ERA and 220 saves over 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers. While he was a dominant closer during his time in Japan, he currently projects to open 2013 as a set-up man. Of course, that could change if the Cubs find a suitor for Carlos Marmol. At the very least, Marmol’s margin for error just got a lot smaller.
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.