Erick Aybar to Padres: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2017

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 27: Erick Aybar #15 of the Detroit Tigers throws to first base on a grounder against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on September 27, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Versatile infielder Erick Aybar reached an agreement Tuesday with the San Diego Padres on a minor league contract, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.

MLB.com's AJ Cassavell confirmed the news and noted Aybar will compete for the team's starting shortstop job. 

Aybar spent the first decade of his career with the Los Angeles Angels before getting dealt to the Atlanta Braves last offseason. The shortstop struggled with the transition, posting a .293 on-base percentage with just three home runs and two stolen bases in 97 games with the club.

The 33-year-old veteran was traded again in August, heading back to the American League to join the Detroit Tigers. Although he didn't tear the cover off the ball, he did show some signs of progress down the stretch with a .341 OBP in 29 games after the deal.

That said, the Dominican Republic native is going to need a strong bounce-back year to prove he's more than merely a replacement-level player at this stage of his career.

Aybar was a reliable asset during his peak seasons with the Angels. He was a middle infielder capable of playing plus defense and stealing around 20 bases with an OPS in the mid-.700s.

While his decline at the plate in 2016 is a concern, he's also lost some of the quickness that made him a threat on the basepaths and solid in the field. He stole just three bases in 126 games and finished the year with a minus-five defensive runs saved figure, according to FanGraphs.

In August, he expressed confidence in his continued ability to make a wide-ranging impact following the trade to the Tigers, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

"Everything. Speed, running the bases, all the little things," Aybar said. "However it is that I can help the team win, that's what I want to bring." 

Now he'll get another fresh start with an opportunity to prove he can still make a positive impact. It's a buy-low signing that doesn't come with much risk for the Padres, but expectations should also be kept within reason heading into 2017.

The former All-Star and Gold Glove winner can still be a useful utility player, moving around the infield to give the starters a day off. Beyond that, counting on him to start for an extended period of time would likely have a negative impact on the lineup.