All offseason long, questions have swirled around the middle of the Padres’ diamond. With youngsters Luis Sardinas and Allen Cordoba penciled in to man the shortstop position on the active roster, backed up by Jose Rondon and Javier Guerra behind them on the 40-man, a key position was slated to be manned by a very inexperienced group. The Padres have addressed this situation with a move that has been kicked around for quite a while. Meet this year’s Adam Rosales / Jemile Weeks signing:
Sources: Erick Aybar has signed a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres. Will fight for a wide-open shortstop job.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 7, 2017
The 33-year-old veteran shortstop split 2016 between Atlanta and Detroit, spending most of that time at his career home of shortstop but also filling in a second and third base. A career .273/.314/.373 hitter, he has showed signs of his age with a decline in both power and speed in recent seasons. Still, his glove rated near league average and a veteran presence may be useful around a relatively young infield. Aybar will go in to camp alongside minor league journeyman Dusty Coleman, another veteran shortstop on a minor league contract.
The other noteworthy signing of the day is catcher Tony Cruz, who was also signed to a minor league deal. The catcher spent his entire career with the Cardinals prior to 2016, contributing from 2011-2015 as Yadier Molina’s primary backup. He was traded in December of 2015 to the Royals, where he spent the majority of the season with their AAA affiliate. With Austin Hedges and Christian Bethancourt likely to make the active roster along with Rule 5 pick Luis Torrens, Cruz will likely compete with Hector Sanchez and Rocky Gale for locker room space in El Paso.