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Max Scherzer won’t pitch in WBC due to stress fracture in right finger

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer will not pitch in the upcoming World Baseball Classic due to a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, MASN’s Mark Zuckerman reports. Scherzer is still expected to be ready for spring training. He and the Nationals likely don’t want to add any unnecessary risk by having him pitch in games that don’t matter for the team.

Scherzer, 32, is the defending National League Cy Young Award winner after going 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA and a 284/56 K/BB ratio in 228 1/3 innings this past season. His wins and innings totals led the National League while his strikeout total and 0.968 WHIP were major league bests.

Scherzer has five years and $135 million remaining on his seven-year contract signed with the Nationals in January two years ago.

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.