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Masahiro Tanaka doesn’t exercise opt-out clause in contract

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Yankees’ right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, he told reporters Friday. He inked a seven-year, $155 million deal with the club prior to the 2014 season and will remain under contract through 2020.

Tanaka, 29, went 13-12 in 30 starts for the Yankees this season, turning in a 4.74 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through 178 1/3 innings. In August, he pushed through a minor bout of inflammation in his right shoulder and was able to rejoin the team for their big playoff push, propelling the Yankees through the ALDS with seven shutout innings in Game 3 and returning in the ALCS with two solid starts against the red-hot Astros.

“It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization and for the wonderful fans of New York,” Tanaka’s statement read. “I’m excited to continue to be a part of this team, and I’m committed to our goal of bringing a World Series Championship back to the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees organization, and the great fans of New York.”

Per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Tanaka’s decision to stay in New York will have a drastic effect on the team’s offseason pursuits. With the righty still due $67 million over the next three years, the Yankees are no longer expected to make a play for top-rated free agents like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. While they could still pursue two-way star and Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that Major League Baseball has yet to reach a deal with the Players’ Association and Nippon Professional Baseball regarding a new posting system, which will stall any potential deal with Otani.

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.