The Detroit Tigers should be hunting in the bargain bin this winter, and veteran Erick Aybar might be right up their alley.
The Detroit Tigers need at least one more infielder to complete their 25-man roster next season. Re-signing Jose Iglesias is a strong possibility, although there are a handful of other cost-effective middle infielders they could pursue.
One free agent option that just became available is former Angels, Padres and briefly Tigers infielder Erick Aybar.
Aybar last appeared in the big leagues in 2017, slashing .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases in 370 plate appearances for the Padres. He spent 2018 in the Mexican League, slashing a respectable .291/.354/.401. He is currently playing in the Dominican Winter League as a 2B/SS for Licey, but made it clear he hopes to make a return to the big leagues next season.
The Tigers currently employ four big league middle infielders: Niko Goodrum, Ronny Rodriguez, Dawel Lugo and Pete Kozma. Goodrum is expected to start at second base, while Lugo could probably use more time in the minor leagues. That leaves the light-hitting veteran Kozma and Rodriguez as options at shortstop.
Aybar’s days as a big league starting SS are probably behind him, but he his recent experience at second base could make him a nice utility player. At the very least, he would not be a bad option to bring into camp as competition for Rodriguez and Kozma for Detroit’s utility infield role.
Aybar is a career .271 hitter with a lengthy track record for elite defense at short. His age (34) may make him more of a utility infielder at this stage of his career, but his plus glovework and solid contact skills make him a decent utility option – especially for a rebuilding team like the Detroit Tigers.