Don’t sleep on the Nationals. Aided by seven scoreless innings from Gio Gonzalez and home runs from Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, and Ian Desmond, the Nationals wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Marlins tonight with a 9-0 victory at Nationals Park.
Gonzalez gave up just three hits (all of them singles) and three walks while striking out eight. The victory was his first since way back on July 10. Werth’s homer was his fourth in his past seven games and 13th since the beginning of July. His OPS is up to .947 for the season.
The Nationals have won eight out of their last nine games to improve to 68-65 for the year and will go into Friday’s action 6 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card spot. As Craig mentioned this morning, they have a pretty soft schedule the rest of the way, so stranger things have happened.
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.