Red Sox acquire infielder Mike Aviles from Royals

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Worried about their infield depth with Jed Lowrie absent, the Red Sox acquired utilityman Mike Aviles from the Royals for infielder Yamaico Navarro and right-hander Kendal Volz on Saturday.

Aviles, who opened the season as the Royals’ primary third baseman, has hit .286/.317/.417 in 1,148 at-bats over the last four seasons.  He’s capable of playing shortstop in addition to second and third, though he’s not really an asset there.  What he does do is pummel lefties: he’s hit .296/.343/.464 against them in his career.

To bring in the insurance policy, the Red Sox surrendered Navarro, a 23-year-old who took a big step forward last year to turn himself into a candidate to start in the majors.  He had spent some time on Boston’s bench this year, hitting .216/.275/.351 in 37 at-bats.  Much more encouraging is his .265/.356/.486 line in 181 Triple-A at-bats the last two seasons.

Still, Navarro wasn’t ever likely to crack Boston’s lineup as a starter.  He may have more luck in Kansas City someday, though he will be behind Alcides Escobar at short and Mike Moustakas at third.  Having picked up some outfield time this year, he may prove to be a great fit in a super-utility role.

Volz didn’t rank among Boston’s better pitching prospects.  The 2009 ninth-round pick was moved to the pen at high-A Salem this year and had a 3.33 ERA and a 56/12 K/BB ratio in 51 1/3 innings.

Aviles will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter.  The Red Sox will control his rights through 2014, so not only can he help out this year, but he can step in for free-agent-to-be Marco Scutaro next year.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.