Minnesota wasted little time finding a new veteran catcher, adding free agent Kurt Suzuki one day after trading Ryan Doumit to Atlanta.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Suzuki and the Twins have agreed to a one-year deal and the 30-year-old will compete with rookie Josmil Pinto for playing time behind the plate. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says the contract is worth $2.75 million.
Suzuki is a better fit than Doumit for the Twins’ roster because he actually has a good defensive reputation, whereas Doumit is truly a designated hitter with lots of experience behind the plate. On the other hand Suzuki hasn’t really hit since 2009 or so and was pretty brutal offensively for the past two seasons with a combined .234 batting average and .614 OPS in 212 games for the A’s and Nationals.
Minnesota would clearly like Pinto to emerge as the regular catcher and he has promising offensive potential, but Pinto has some Doumit-like question marks defensively and odds are Suzuki will find his way into Ron Gardenhire’s lineup plenty.
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.