Nationals and Stephen Strasburg agree to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration

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The Nationals and right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg have agreed to a one-year, $3.975 million deal with performance bonuses, avoiding arbitration. The report comes to us from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Strasburg, 25, was eligible for arbitration for the first time and is entering 2014 with the momentum of back-to-back solid seasons. He posted a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts in 2012 and an even 3.00 ERA in 30 starts this past season. Additionally, the only starters with a higher strikeout rate than Strasburg since the start of 2012 are Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer. If Strasburg continues to improve in 2014, he’ll make his remaining two years of arbitration eligibility interesting for the Nationals in terms of figuring out an enticing figure for a multi-year contract extension.

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.