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Report: Orioles interested in Collin McHugh

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The Orioles have reportedly reached out to the Astros about right-hander Collin McHugh, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. While a trade doesn’t appear to be imminent, McHugh could help bolster the Orioles’ woefully thin rotation, an opportunity he’s unlikely to get in Houston as the Astros already have Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton pegged for starting roles.

The 30-year-old right-hander is looking to rebound after missing the first half of the 2017 season with an elbow injury. He performed well after working his way back from the disabled list, and finished the season with a 5-2 record in 12 starts and a 3.55 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 in 63 1/3 innings. While McHugh appears more than capable of shouldering a full workload again in 2018, the Astros’ offseason acquisitions have effectively removed him from the rotation, and it seems far more likely that he’ll end up in a long relief role this year — provided they don’t trade him first, that is.

In the meantime, McHugh is still waiting on an arbitration ruling this offseason after filing for $5 million back in January, which was met with a counteroffer of $4.55 million from the Astros. He’s set to remain under team control through 2020.

An earlier report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic suggests that the Twins may also be in on McHugh, though they don’t appear to have made a serious offer yet. Rosenthal points out that teams might be reluctant to pursue trade candidates like McHugh and Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi until more free agents (Jake Arrieta and Andrew Cashner among them) have been taken off the board.

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.