According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, Jeff Mathis suffered a broken collarbone when he was hit by a foul tip during the fourth inning of today’s Grapefruit League opener against the Cardinals. The injury will sideline him for around six weeks, which means he’ll likely begin the season on the disabled list.
Mathis was acquired by the Marlins this winter in the big 12-player trade that sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto. The 29-year-old backstop batted .218/.249/.393 with eight home runs and a .642 OPS in 227 plate appearances last season and threw out 41 percent of attempted basestealers.
Mathis was projected to open the season as the backup to young Rob Brantly, but the Marlins could now be on the lookout for some veteran insurance behind the plate. Kyle Skipworth is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster.
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.