A few short months ago Steve Lombardozzi was considered important enough to net a top-flight starting pitcher in a trade. Then, a little after that, he was only good enough to net a veteran infielder who wasn’t going to make a big league roster (and who was subsequently released). Now he’s a waste of 25-man roster space: he was just optioned to Triple-A to make room for Manny Machado.
Jokes aside, it is somewhat surprising that it was Lombardozzi who got the boot. He hasn’t been tearing up the pea patch, but he has been considerably better than Ryan Flaherty in around the same number of plate appearances. And while Jonathan Schoop has been a bit better than Lombardozzi, it was Lombo who was getting more time at second base than Schoop, who had mostly been covering third.
Not a big difference one way or the other, of course. But it’s kinda odd to think how far Lombardozzi has fallen in terms of perception in the past year.
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.