Word came down yesterday that the Cubs were considering releasing Kevin Gregg after he voiced his displeasure to the media about being removed from the closer role. However, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that he will remain with the club after Cubs president Theo Epstein accepted his apology this morning.
It appears that the kerfuffle was rooted in miscommunication, as Epstein said yesterday that Gregg wasn’t going to be permanently removed from the closer role, but that they wanted to give the younger Pedro Strop a couple of looks down the stretch. This is a lot of talk about save chances for a 64-90 team who has just one week left in the season, but here we are.
Gregg, 35, has a 3.45 ERA, 32 saves, and a 50/32 K/BB ratio over 60 innings this season. He will be a free agent after the season.
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.