Sandoval batting .333 after 365 days in majors

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Pablo Sandoval has quickly become one of my favorite players, because he looks like a beer-league softball slugger, swings at absolutely everything from both sides of the plate, never seems to shut up, can often be spotted dancing in the dugout, runs like he’s chasing a piece of cake, and already has a pair of great nicknames in “Kung Fu Panda” and “Fat Ichiro.” Oh, and he’s also pretty damn good.
Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News writes that “one year ago today the Giants had themselves a bouncing new baby Panda” when they called up Sandoval “and life hasn’t been the same since.” He’s hit .333/.373/.533 with 20 homers and 67 total extra-base hits in 149 games through 365 days as a big leaguer, and the 23-year-old is trying to become the first player since Tony Gwynn in 1984 to win the NL batting title in his first full season.
Sandoval has amazingly done all that damage despite drawing a grand total of 26 non-intentional walks in 601 plate appearances. For comparison, Adrian Gonzalez and Carlos Pena have both drawn more than 26 walks in a single month this season. Sandoval has swung at 60.7 percent of all the pitches he’s seen in the majors, which is the highest rate in baseball. For comparison, Luis Castillo is at the other end of the hacking spectrum at just 30.5 percent.
Naturally he leads the world by swinging at 46.9 percent of all pitches outside the strike zone and has taken a cut at over 80 percent of pitches inside the strike zone. And perhaps the most amazing stat of all is that the 5-foot-11, 250-pound galoot has somehow managed to beat out 18 infield hits to rank among the top 20 in baseball ahead of speedsters like Chone Figgins, Willy Taveras, Jason Bartlett, Nyjer Morgan, Johnny Damon, Jimmy Rollins, and Alexei Ramirez.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.