The Dodgers will leave tomorrow night in preparation for their two-game season-opening series against the Diamondbacks next Saturday and Sunday in Australia. However, they’ll likely do so without one of their regulars.
According to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said this morning that Carl Crawford is expected to stay behind in the United States for the birth of his child. Crawford’s fiancee could have the baby any day now, so he understandably doesn’t want to take the chance of missing out on the moment if it doesn’t happen before the team leaves tomorrow.
With Crawford expected to begin the year on the paternity leave list, Mattingly plans to play the matchups to fill the void in left field in Australia. We’ll likely see Scott Van Slyke get the call to start the season opener with left-hander Patrick Corbin on the hill for Arizona.
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.