Alvarez, Smoak highlight Team USA roster for World Cup

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Team USA released its roster for next month’s baseball World Cup and there are some interesting names among the 23 players who will try to repeat as champions, with a mix of minor-league veterans and top prospects with limited pro experience.
“We have what we think is a solid mix of young players and veterans on this team,” general manager Bob Watson said. “For the first time in over 30 years we head into a World Cup as the defending champion, and we think this team is more than capable of returning to the medal stand.”
Two years ago the team included Evan Longoria, Colby Rasmus, and Andy LaRoche, and this year’s roster also has some star power. Four of the top 20 picks in the 2008 draft are on the team, including No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates and No. 11 overall pick Justin Smoak of the Rangers.
Alvarez and Smoak are both among the top dozen or so hitting prospects in baseball and could be in the majors to stay at some point next season, with Jason Castro of the Astros and Ike Davis of the Mets joining them from the 2008 top 20.

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)
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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.