Angels shortstop Erick Aybar makes an off-balance throw to first base for… (Kathy Willens / Associated…)
The Angels on Thursday officially signed shortstop Erick Aybar to a four-year, $35-million contract extension, a move that provides stability and Gold Glove-caliber defense at a key position through 2016.
Aybar’s deal, which includes a $1-million signing bonus but does not include a no-trade provision, will pay him annual salaries of $8.5 million in each of the next four years. The switch-hitter is playing under a one-year, $5.075-million contract this season.
The Angels held an informal luncheon at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney to announce the signing. Aybar was at a head table, right behind the Gold Glove Award he won in 2011.
“The Gold Glove in front of us has a lot to do with what Erick’s about,” General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. “He does a lot of things every day to help you win games. His defense, base-running, the energy he brings every day, his switch-hitting bat … there’s an electricity when he’s playing that is valuable to a team, and this contract extension recognizes that.”
Dipoto had been negotiating with Aybar’s agents since mid-December, and though Aybar said all spring that contract talks were not a distraction, his .190 average in the first 12 games may have indicated otherwise.
“Definitely,” Aybar said, when asked if he felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “Being very honest, I just need to put this aside. It’s done. I want to play the game the way I know how to play and get on base so Albert [Pujols] can drive me in.”
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