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Report: Cubs sign Yu Darvish

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs have a six-year, $126 million contract in place with free agent right-hander Yu Darvish. The deal tops out at $150 million with incentives and includes an opt-out after the second year. While the signing is pending a physical and still has yet to be confirmed by the team, it finally looks like the long months of speculation and rumors can be put to bed.

Darvish, 31, is set to join a rotation that already features several top-tier names, including Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood. The Cubs’ rotation ranked sixth among NL teams in 2017 with a combined 4.05 ERA and 11.8 fWAR and stands to benefit greatly from the addition of an ace pitcher who supported the Rangers and Dodgers with a cumulative 3.86 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, 10.1 SO/9 and 3.5 fWAR last season.

Not only does the Cubs’ acquisition represent a significant shift in what has been a very strange and tense offseason, but it should open the door to numerous other free agent signings, as many clubs were waiting on Darvish (among others) to find a landing spot before making their moves this winter. Additional reports from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports indicate that the Twins, Dodgers and Brewers were in the mix for Darvish until the end and were thought to have five-year, $100+ million offers on the table. Now, it appears they could target the next-best free agent starter left on the market: right-hander Jake Arrieta.

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.