The Reds make it official: Aroldis Chapman will be the closer

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This was reported yesterday, but today the Reds officially announced it: Aroldis Chapman will be the closer.

Walt Jocketty made the announcement at Reds camp today. He added that Jonathan Broxton will be the setup man and Mike Leake is in the rotation.  He added that he had not, contrary to popular opinion, been pushing for Chapman to be in the rotation.  This provides some support to Dusty Baker who, likely in keeping with popular opinion, wants to keep Chapman in the pen.

All in all: not the biggest deal in the world. As a matter of principle we should all want good pitchers being tested as starters unless or until it is shown that they can’t do it, simply because 170 innings of good starting is worth way more than 60 innings of great relief.  But in this particular case — a team with a pretty solid rotation as it is — it’s probably not gonna make the biggest difference on the planet. At least not now.

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.