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Don Mattingly will return to manage the Marlins in 2018

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If there was any doubt, the Marlins put them to rest on Thursday: Don Mattingly will manage the team in 2018, Tim Healey of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations, said, “I didn’t know a decision had to be made. He’s under contract. Just spoke to him today, he’s doing great.”

Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman bought the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria a couple months ago. That change in ownership saw some change in staff, so it was reasonable to think that Jeter might want to bring in a different manager. Mattingly is under contract through 2019, but that is not a guarantee of anything, as former Phillies manager Pete Mackanin can attest. Mackanin signed an extension with the Phillies in May and was fired at the end of the season.

Mattingly, 56, has managed the Marlins for two seasons, amassing a 156-167 (.483) record. He may manage the 2018 season without National League MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton, as the Marlins are reportedly trying to trade him.

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.