GM: Angels “making progress” on Erick Aybar extension

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During spring training the Angels signed second baseman Howie Hendick to a four-year, $33.5 million contract, but they couldn’t come to an agreement on a similar long-term deal with shortstop Erick Aybar.

However, the two sides didn’t stop talking when Opening Day arrived and general manager Jerry Dipoto told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that they’re “making progress” and “very confident that we’ll be able to get something done” with the impending free agent.

Dipoto revealed that the talks have been going on since way back in December, which is when Aybar avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.075 million deal that covered his final season under team control.

Kendrick would have been eligible for free agency after the season as well, so $33.5 million and four years is seemingly a pretty decent baseline for Aybar’s deal. Judging from the lengthy negotiations, though, one side apparently doesn’t think so.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.