PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres made their plans for Erick Aybar official on Tuesday: the 11-year-veteran has been added to the 40-man roster and will start at shortstop on Opening Day.Aybar's status with the Padres has become increasingly clear over the past month, as he outperformed Luis Sardinas in the
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres made their plans for Erick Aybar official on Tuesday: the 11-year-veteran has been added to the 40-man roster and will start at shortstop on Opening Day.
Aybar's status with the Padres has become increasingly clear over the past month, as he outperformed Luis Sardinas in the battle for the starting job.
"We like a lot of the intangibles he brings," said San Diego manager Andy Green. "We like the way he plays the game. He's competed well in Spring Training with the bat in his hands, and he's been the stabilizer at short we've been looking for."
The Padres brought Aybar to camp as a non-roster invite with the promise that he'd have the chance to compete for the starting shortstop job. He batted .275/.327/.373 while playing superior defense.
All the while, Aybar took it upon himself to mentor some of San Diego's younger offensive players -- despite the fact that their performance may have jeopardized his own job status.
"First and foremost, thanks to the organization for this opportunity," Aybar said. "They believed in me, which is really great. As far as this opportunity, I feel like we've got a lot of really young players with a lot of talent. That doesn't necessarily put us behind in any way. I think people could be surprised. We can go to battle with these guys."
Aybar's inclusion leaves Sardinas' roster status in question. The 23-year-old shortstop is out of options and batted .222/.239/.289 in the Cactus League. The Padres are looking at Sardinas as a possible utility option, and they've begun experimenting with him in left field, as well as at second and third.
Aybar is by no means the long-term solution at shortstop for San Diego. His promotion would seem to indicate that the club feels similarly about Sardinas, who was acquired in a trade with Seattle last August.
The Padres have spent the better part of the past decade searching for their shortstop of the future. They have several options in the Minor Leagues, none of whom are big league ready. That leaves San Diego with its third stopgap option in as many years. Aybar follows Clint Barmes and Alexei Ramirez as 30-something veterans to be given the Opening Day nod.
In 126 games between Atlanta and Detroit last season, Aybar batted .243/.303/.320. He's a career .273 hitter and was named to the All-Star team with the Angels in 2014. He won his only Gold Glove Award in '11 and was once considered one of the game's best defensive shortstops -- though he's seen a decline with the glove over the past few years.
"How many games [Aybar] plays this year will be dictated by how well he plays," Green said. "But he's going to be our guy starting the year."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.