GM says Mariners “would love to have Nelson Cruz, but …”

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As expected the draft pick compensation attached to signing Nelson Cruz has significantly hurt the free agent outfielder’s market, leaving him unsigned with weeks before spring training begins.

In speaking at the Mariners’ fan fest event general manager Jack Zduriencik was very open about the team’s interest in Cruz, but also laid out exactly why his price tag is effected by the draft pick:

I’ve had a lot of discussions with Adam Katz, his agent. There’s an economic factor tied to that, as well as losing your draft pick. Would I like to have him here? Absolutely. I’d love to have Nelson Cruz in this lineup. But how much do you have to pay him, how many years is it going to be and are you willing to lose another draft pick? Those are the things you have to factor.

Seattle has already lost its second-round pick for signing Robinson Cano, so in theory the Mariners would be giving up less–a third-round pick–to sign Cruz than most teams. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that the Orioles are also interested in Cruz, but adds that he may end up trying to re-sign with the Rangers on a one-year deal.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to 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.