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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The representatives for Erick Aybar, the Angels' current
shortstop, left the facility just before the weekend. Jean Segura, potentially the Angels' future
shortstop, departed Major League camp on Sunday morning.
But the Angels' long-term uncertainty at the position hasn't gone anywhere.
For this season, they know Aybar will man shortstop and -- if his hot spring is any indication -- could be a viable leadoff option in the Majors. And they hope Segura will continue his seemingly rapid development in Double-A Arkansas, which is where he was optioned after three weeks of big league camp.
General manager Jerry Dipoto had begun negotiations on an extension for Aybar, who's slated for free agency next offseason, in November, but said just before Spring Training that an agreement wasn't likely before Opening Day.
That may still be the case.
Dipoto, who would not comment on the negotiations when reached by phone, met with Aybar's agent, Fernando Cuza, a few times while he was visiting his client this week, but sources said the two sides are still not close to a deal. Dipoto was previously able to sign second baseman Howie Kendrick to a four-year, $33.5 million extension, but reports have indicated that Aybar is looking for five years.
One potential sticking point on the Angels' side: Segura's presence as a potential option down the road.
"My agent hasn't told me anything yet," Aybar, who's signed for $5.075 million this season, said in Spanish on Sunday morning. "They keep talking. Up to now, nothing has happened. Let's see if now, or at some point before the season, it does. ... Like I said before, I want to win a championship and I want to stay here. They know I want to stay here, but the Angels will make that decision."
Aybar, like Kendrick a homegrown player, has put up a .280/.327/.391 slash line in 418 games over the last three seasons.
Last year, he notched career highs in homers (10), RBIs (59), steals (30) and doubles (33) while winning his first Gold Glove. And this offseason, several teams, including the big-spending Red Sox, could be in the market for a shortstop of Aybar's caliber -- especially if he can translate his Spring Training success into the regular season.
While leading off in all but two of his 10 Cactus League games this season, Aybar has hit .400 (12-for-30) with a .438 on-base percentage, perhaps providing a small sample of how much better his numbers -- and, thus, his market value -- could be with Albert Pujols lurking as the No. 3 hitter.
"There are a lot of pitchers that don't want to face Pujols," Aybar said. "Having that beast back there is a headache for a lot of pitchers. I just have to do my job and get on base so that when Pujols hits, there's somebody on to drive in."
Segura may be six years Aybar's junior, and may still have a lot to prove in pro ball, but prior to being sent to the Minor League side of the Angels' complex on Sunday, the 22-year-old showed he may be ready to be a Major League shortstop sooner than anticipated.
Segura, ranked No. 2 on the Top 20 Angels Prospect list
, hit .381 (8-for-21) with two homers and six RBIs while seeing action in 11 Cactus League games. Most important in his development at this point, though, he played solid defense at his relatively new position, turning in some acrobatic plays, making the routine ones and perhaps showing he may not project as a big league second baseman after all.
Ironically enough, it's Aybar, his Dominican countryman, who has played a big part in Segura's development as a shortstop.
"I didn't make the team, but I'm leaving happy because I did a good job, I played well and I impressed a little bit," Segura said in Spanish. "I just have to keep working hard so that next time I can stay here and come up."
Segura was signed as a shortstop from the Dominican Republic in 2007, but was converted to second base. Four seasons later, though, his quick feet and strong arm moved him back to his original position.
Hamstring issues limited Segura to only 48 Minor League games at the position in 2011.
Mike Scioscia hardly noticed.
"His tools are incredible," the Angels' skipper said. "Probably the biggest thing has been his growth as a shortstop. I think he's starting to feel much more comfortable at that position. He's much more under control, but still can make the big plays when he has to -- he can go in the hole, turns a double play. ... On the offensive side, he showed some really good plate discipline this spring. And I think as he grows and keeps developing, he has as much upside as anybody who's in that room."