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Report: Dodgers close to minor league deal with Jose Miguel Fernandez

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Cuban infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez is reportedly nearing a minor league deal with the Dodgers, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The 28-year-old was granted free agency in April 2016 after defecting from Cuba in December 2015.

Fernandez played for the Matanzas of La Serie Nacional from 2007 – 2014, slashing .319/.403/.423 with 37 home runs and an .826 OPS while filling in at second base. He was suspended in October 2014 after his first unsuccessful attempt to defect from Cuba, and did not appear in Cuban or international competition in 2015 as a result. Despite his hiatus from professional ball, his high contact rate and exemplary plate discipline drew considerable interest upon his arrival in the United States. Bill Plunkett of the OC Register points out that the infielder made a switch from second to third base in winter ball, though it seems more likely that the Dodgers would utilize him as a second base option going forward.

The club has yet to confirm the deal, but Fernandez’s age and tenure with the Matanzas should exclude him from standard international signing bonus limits (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen). Sanchez reports that the signing bonus for the second baseman is around $200,000.

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.