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.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.