Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Madison Bumgarner is in the best shape of his life

8 Comments

Add Giants starter Madison Bumgarner to the list of players entering the 2018 season in the best shape of their lives. On Friday, Bumgarner told reporters, including MLB.com’s Chris Haft, that he exercised with greater intensity and frequency this offseason. As a result, Bumgarner said, “I feel as good as I’ve ever felt, as strong as I’ve ever felt. I’m really excited to get started.”

Battery mate Buster Posey said, “He looks as trim and fit as I can remember. Knowing him as long as I have, it doesn’t surprise me. I watch him all year. He’s constantly trying to perfect his craft.”

Bumgarner, 28, missed time between mid-April and mid-July due to injuries sustained in a dirt bike accident. Overall, he made 17 starts, finishing with a 3.32 ERA and a 101/20 K/BB ratio in 111 innings. By most standards, that’s still a solid year, but it marked the highest ERA Bumgarner posted since 2012.

Bumgarner said he wasn’t sure what exactly his motivation was for the serious offseason workout routine, which Haft said included running, weightlifting, Pilates, and yoga. Bumgarner said, “I don’t know what the reason was. There was a little extra motivation. I don’t know if it was because of the year, because of the injury, because of the team that we have this year. Probably a combination of sorts. I asked myself that question this winter, actually, but I never did find an answer.”

The Giants finished 64-98 last season. To their credit, unlike a lot of teams, the Giants made moves to improve over the offseason, acquiring Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen and signing Austin Jackson. FanGraphs is projecting the Giants to go 84-78 in 2018, a 20-game improvement.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

Getty Images
1 Comment

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.