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Report: Nationals to hire Dave Martinez as manager

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FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Cubs’ bench coach Dave Martinez has been selected as their new manager. The team has not confirmed the report yet, but Heyman expects that the announcement will follow the conclusion of the World Series next week.

Martinez, 53, spent nine seasons working as a spring training instructor, bench coach and defensive coordinator for the Rays. He was routinely passed over for other managerial openings on the Rays, Cubs, Astros, White Sox, Blue Jays, Indians and Nationals and has no official managerial experience to speak of at any level. The Cubs brought him on as a bench coach prior to the 2015 season, and he got his first taste of a World Series victory after helping coach the club through their 2016 title run.

It’s been several weeks since former manager Dusty Baker was released from the Nationals, and Heyman speculates that the team wanted to move quickly through the hiring process. They interviewed Red Sox’ former skipper John Farrell and inquired about Mets’ hitting coach Kevin Long but were ultimately drawn to Martinez’s experience in the dugout, understanding of analytics and relationship with the players. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post adds that the deal is reportedly good for three years with an option.

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.