Yesterday news broke that A.J. Burnett plans to pitch in 2014 and isn’t necessarily committed to re-signing with the Pirates, which opens the door for other contenders to make a last-minute run at the 37-year-old who was one of the NL’s best pitchers last season.
Baltimore was immediately mentioned as a potential landing spot because Burnett lives in Maryland and now Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports that the Orioles are “all in on Burnett.” (Presumably they won’t care so much about his nipple rings and tattoos this time around.)
Gammons also mentions the Rays as potential Burnett suitors, which is certainly interesting considering their general lack of spending. And the odds of Pittsburgh out-bidding teams for Burnett on the open market seem slimmer and slimmer.
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.