Jake Arrieta close to rejoining Cubs’ starting rotation

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MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that starter Jake Arrieta will need at least one more rehab start with Double-A Tennessee before rejoining the Cubs’ rotation. Arrieta showed up to spring training with a sore shoulder and has been behind schedule ever since.

Arrieta has made two rehab starts to date. On April 5, he allowed an unearned run in three innings of work. On Thursday, he tossed 3 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, striking out four and walking two.

Muskat said Cubs manager Rick Renteria received positive reports on Arrieta’s Thursday start. Once Arrieta is healthy enough to rejoin the rotation, he’ll displace Carlos Villanueva.

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.