David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Braves catcher Evan Gattis had off-season knee surgery. In October, Gattis had a “dime-sized” bone chip removed from his right knee, which had been bothering him since 2006. As a result, the Braves hadn’t been using him in spring training at the same pace most teams use their starting catchers.
Knee problem and all, Gattis was able to slug 21 home runs and post a .771 OPS in his rookie season. Now with Brian McCann out of the picture, Gattis will get the lion’s share of playing time behind the dish for the Braves. When he isn’t behind the plate, the Braves plan to give him intermittent playing time at first base and in the outfield.
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.