TEMPE, Ariz. - Erick Aybar arrived at the Angels' Spring Training facility on Saturday - raring to get going, but still without a contract extension.
The Angels and Aybar's representatives negotiated on a potential extension throughout the offseason, but weren't able to agree to terms and instead avoided arbitration via a $5.075 million contract for 2012. The Angels were previously able to sign second baseman Howie Kendrick to a four-year, $33.5 million deal.
Aybar -- who, like Kendrick before his extension, is heading into his final season before free agency -- said his preference is to stay with the Angels, and is willing to negotiate a contract in-season if that's what it takes.
"I think it would be important for me to be here my whole career, because I came here from the Dominican and they've always supported me," Aybar said in Spanish. "But let's see what happens. If they give me the opportunity to stay here, I'll accept that opportunity. I want to win. I want to win a ring, and this year we're in position to do that."
What it will take to lock up Aybar is a separate issue.
Aybar wouldn't go into details about the kind of deal he's seeking, but the Angels may be a little less willing to spend on the 28-year-old shortstop with prospect Jean Segura waiting in the wings.
General manager Jerry Dipoto said a couple of weeks ago that while he's still optimistic about an extension, he doesn't foresee one taking place before the regular season.
"Very much a possibility," Dipoto said then, "but there's nothing imminent and not likely to be anything that occurs before the start of the season. It's possible something could occur [before then], but I wouldn't say it's likely."
Aybar is coming off his best year in 2011, setting career highs in homers (10), RBIs (59), stolen bases (30) and doubles (33) while posting a .322 on-base percentage and winning his first Gold Glove.
"My agents are still negotiating with them, and let's see what happens in the next few days or during the season," Aybar said of a possible extension. "If we can't agree on an extension, I'll just play baseball. Maybe during the season we can talk, too. I just want to stay here. That's it."