Rafael Soriano will be the Nationals’ closer

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General manager Mike Rizzo left no doubt that Rafael Soriano will be the Nationals’ new closer after signing a two-year, $28 million deal, saying: “Suffice it to say, Raffy is here to pitch the ninth inning.”

That means last year’s primary closer, Tyler Clippard, moves back into a setup role after saving 32 games, and Drew Storen remains in a setup role after saving 43 games in 2011.

Storen was used as a closer in Game 5 of the NLDS and blew a two-run lead against the Cardinals, but Rizzo was quickly to say that “by no means the signing of Rafael Soriano was based on one inning and one game at the end of the season.”

Whatever the case a late-inning trio of Soriano, Storen, and Clippard is one of the best in baseball–all with closing experience–and last season combined to throw 171 innings with a 2.89 ERA.

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.