Phil Coke began the season as the Tigers’ closer, but Chris Iott of MLive.com speculates that he could be non-tendered this offseason.
Coke is coming off a miserable season in which he posted a 5.40 ERA and 30/21 K/BB ratio over 38 1/3 innings. Miscast for the closer role, the 31-year-old southpaw struggled with early save chances before hitting the disabled list with a groin injury and continued poor command lead to a demotion to Triple-A Toledo in August. He rejoined the big club a couple of weeks later, but then dealt with some elbow issues and didn’t make it back until the ALCS.
Coke earned $1.85 million in 2013 and will be arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. The Tigers might prefer to cut him loose rather than give him another raise, but he could be a useful piece somewhere if used properly and his health cooperates.
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.