The first-place Pirates are getting a nice boost.
According to beat reporter Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, right-hander Jason Grilli has been activated from the disabled list and will be available to pitch in Tuesday night’s game against the Brewers. Mark Melancon will remain the Bucs’ closer in the immediate future, but Grilli can reclaim that ninth-inning gig if he pitches well enough.
“We’ll use him at least a couple times in non-leverage situations to see how he fares, how he feels,” manager Clint Hurdle said Tuesday. “We eventually plan on transitioning him back to the closer’s role.”
Grilli had a 2.34 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 30 saves in 42 1/3 innings this season before straining his right forearm on a slider in late July. Pittsburgh currently leads St. Louis by one game in the National League Central.
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.