UPDATE: The deal is worth between $5-7 million and includes an option for 2014, according to Scott Boeck of USA Today.
7:46 PM: This isn’t quite on the level of the big Felix Hernandez news, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners have signed left-hander Joe Saunders to a one-year contract, pending a physical. No word yet on the terms involved.
Saunders was reportedly holding out for a multi-year deal this offseason, but his market clearly didn’t develop as hoped. The Orioles and Twins were also mentioned as possible landing spots in recent weeks, but apparently the Mariners had the best offer on the table.
Saunders owns a 4.15 ERA over eight seasons in the majors, including a 4.07 ERA and 112/39 K/BB ratio over 174 2/3 innings last season between the Diamondbacks and Orioles. The 31-year-old will essentially fill the spot of fellow southpaw Jason Vargas, who was traded to the Angels earlier this winter in the Kendrys Morales deal.
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.