Indians closer Chris Perez has allowed a total of six runs in his last two appearances and has a 7.52 ERA since the start of August. As a result, manager Terry Francona has removed him from the closer’s role, reports WTAM’s Nick Camino.
On the season, Perez has a career-worst 4.33 ERA in 54 innings, converting 25 of 30 save opportunities.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that Joe Smith or Justin Masterson could be used as the team’s closer going forward. Winners of seven in a row and 12 of their last 14, the Indians are clutching onto a one-game lead over the Rangers for the second AL Wild Card with three games remaining. They trail the Rays for the first Wild Card spot by one game.
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.