Dodgers clinch first National League West title since 2009

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It wasn’t too long ago that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was on the brink of being fired, but now his team is the first in MLB to clinch a division title this season. What a wild ride.

The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 7-6 this afternoon at Chase Field to wrap up the National League West. It is their first division title since 2009.

The Dodgers trailed 6-3 after the third inning, but they chipped away until A.J. Ellis put them ahead with a solo homer off Josh Collmenter in the top of the eighth inning. Hanley Ramirez, who sat out Wednesday with lingering back issues, went 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBI in the victory.

Mattingly’s job was in danger when the high-priced Dodgers were sitting in last place at 30-42 on June 21, but they have gone a major league-best 58-23 since. While the remarkable turnaround is complete and the division is decided, the Dodgers still have home-field in the National League to play for. As of now, both the Cardinals and Braves have better records. Still, they will be a very formidable opponent come postseason time.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a 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.