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Mets sign Nori Aoki

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The Mets signed veteran outfielder Nori Aoki on Saturday, per a team announcement. Aoki was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Monday and passed through waivers unclaimed. He’s expected to join the team on the road in Houston and should be available off the bench during Saturday’s doubleheader.

Aoki, 35, slashed .274/.319/.402 in back-to-back campaigns with the Astros and Blue Jays this season, racking up a collective five home runs, 27 RBI and .724 OPS in 258 plate appearances. He hasn’t found consistent playing time in the big leagues since his 118-game stint with the Mariners in 2016, but should see plenty of starts in an outfield that has been hampered by season-ending injuries to Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes.

The veteran outfielder is under team control through 2018, and MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo speculates that the move may be more than a simple attempt to salvage the end of an underwhelming season. Even with the return of Cespedes and Conforto next spring, the team is short on outfielders after dealing Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce last month, and could use the extra help from a career .285/.350/.388 hitter.

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.