MLB.com’s Greg Johns has the status update …
Good news from Taijuan Walker today as the youngster threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and said he felt great. Walker is likely a couple weeks still from throwing in a game and a few more from being Major League ready, in the best-case scenario, but the fact he’s on the mend and throwing well is welcome news.
Walker will open the season on the 15-day disabled list but should be able to join the Mariners’ starting rotation by the end of April. The 21-year-old posted a promising 2.93 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, and 10.2 K/9 in 141 1/3 innings last season between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma. He then debuted at the major league level in August.
Walker was rated the eighth overall prospect in the game earlier this spring by Baseball Prospectus.
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.