This morning I made a joke about Willy Aybar signing with Edmonton in the independent leagues, saying that he was being sent to baseball Siberia. Well, if this report is true, baseball Siberia is way too good for him. Real Siberia is too good for him. Frankly, he can take a flying leap into the abyss for all I care:
Yesterday Willy Aybar signed with the Edmonton Capitals of the Independent North American League. We had been wondering why no Major League team would even give Aybar a minor league deal. Turns out it was because Aybar was sentenced to three months in prison in the Dominican Republic after he beat his wife. Aybar’s wife ended up in intensive care for an extended period of time, in critical condition.
That comes from Rays Index, which has a translation of a Dominican Republic news report from back in January. Rays Index infers from the article that Aybar just signed because he was only released from jail a few weeks ago and speculates that he was signed in Canada because he may have had trouble getting a visa to come to the United States given his record.
I don’t know how any of that works. All I know for sure is that I hope to never see Willie Aybar in the major leagues again.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.