Blue Jays sign Russell Martin to five-year, $82 million deal

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Russell Martin has agreed to a five-year contract with the Blue Jays, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

For the past several weeks the Cubs were viewed as the front-runner for Martin and the Pirates were also making a run at re-signing the 31-year-old catcher, but the Canada native decided instead to head home.

After a great start to his career with the Dodgers he mostly struggled from 2009-2013, never cracking a .750 OPS, but Martin hit .290 with a .402 on-base percentage and .832 OPS in 111 games for the Pirates this season to re-establish himself as one of the game’s best catchers.

In addition to the good on-base skills and durability Martin also grades out extremely well in pitch-framing statistics, suggesting his all-around value is generally underrated.

No word yet on the money, but last offseason’s five-year, $85 million deal between Brian McCann and the Yankees seems to be a likely starting point.

UPDATE: Martin will get $82 million for five seasons.

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.