Aybar, Angels avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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Erick Aybar and the Angels have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2.05 million contract with an additional $100,000 in potential incentives based on reaching 575 and 625 plate appearances.
Aybar was asking for $2.75 million via arbitration while the Angels filed at $1.85 million, so even reaching the maximum incentives would mean that he settled $150,000 below the midpoint that is so often standard in arbitration-avoidance deals.
He’ll be arbitration eligible again in 2011 and 2012, so while Aybar is among the best young shortstops in baseball the Angels are in no rush to lock him into a long-term deal quite yet. He turned 26 years old last month and may be asked to replace Chone Figgins in the leadoff spot after batting .312/.353/.423 in 137 games (and 556 plate appearances) last season.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.