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Dodgers buy out remainder of Andre Ethier’s contract, making him a free agent

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers have chosen to buy out the remainder of outfielder Andre Ethier‘s contract for $2.5 million rather than picking up his $17.5 million club option, making him a free agent. Thus ends his five-year, $85 million contract signed back in June 2012.

Ethier, 35, played in only 22 games during the regular season for the Dodgers due to neck and back injuries. He also only played in 16 games in 2016. This past regular season, he batted .235/.316/.441. Ethier was responsible for the Dodgers’ only run in their Game 7 loss to the Astros in the World Series.

Given Ethier’s age, injury history, and declining production, he’ll likely have to settle for a minor league deal or a one-year, incentive-laden major league contract if he intends to play in 2018. Ethier debuted with the Dodgers in 2006 and has been with them ever since.

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.