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Willy Aybar signs with Edmonton Capitals

May 10, 2011, 5:55 PM EDT

Rays' Aybar drives in the game-winning run against the Angels during their MLB American League baseball game in St. Petersburg

Willy Aybar, who went without a gig all winter and still didn’t have any takers despite the rash of injuries to National League third basemen, has signed with the Edmonton Capitals of the independent North American League.

The 28-year-old Aybar was a very solid hitter in part-time roles for the Rays in 2008 (.253/.327/.410 in 362 AB) and 2009 (.253/.331/.416 in 296 AB) before struggling last year (.230/.309/.344 in 270 AB).  Disappointed in his performance, the Rays declined his $2.2 million option for 2011 and then non-tendered him in December.

It was odd to see Aybar go all winter without signing.  It seems safe to assume he was holding out for a major league deal at something close to his 2010 salary of $1.35 million, but to not take a minor league deal in February looks like a big miscalculation now.  According to its rules page, North American League teams have a salary floor of $60,000 and a soft cap of $90,000.

(BTW – If you spent a lot of time following the minor leagues over the last 10 years and you’re kind of bored, give the NAL transactions page a look.  Seeing Chuck Tiffany and Mitch Einertson traded for some guy named Donald Brandt (who was promptly sold to another league) really brings back memories.)

  1. cur68 - May 10, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    He’ll be playing in my old home town at the great Jon Ducey Park (they’ve renovated/rebuilt it and renamed it something corporate but I live in the glorious past when it comes to ball parks). I may very well make a trip up to Edmonton just to take in a game…

  2. Brian Murphy - May 10, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    If only he had signed with the Edmonton Oilers or the Washington Capitals. That would have been a story.

  3. jwbiii - May 10, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    This league is the remains of the Golden League, which was formed with the idea that having most of the teams in Southern California would keep travel expenses down (Fullerton -> Orange County Flyers, Long Beach Armada, San Diego Surf Dawgs, later the Tijuana Cimarrones). Now the Chico Outlaws are the only California team left. They wanted to get rid of the St. George (Utah) Roadrunners because they were too far away from their Southern California base. Then they added the Calgary Vipers, Edmonton Capitals, Victoria Seals, Maui Na Koa Ikaika (Mighty Oaks is a rough translation), and now have picked up the south Texas part of the United League. It has been an interesting off season in the Indy League world.

  4. jwbiii - May 11, 2011 at 6:53 AM

    Oooh, look! Chris Britton is a Lake County (Illinois) Fielder!

  5. Diana - Jun 4, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    @Matthew: Thanks for the mention of Chuck Tiffany. My son played with him when they were little and I’ve wondered what he’s been doing with himself lately.

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