Milton Bradley may actually be wanted somewhere

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This part of the season usually gives us playoff races, but we really only have one in play right now.  In their absence, we’re sort of in a pre-postseason holding pattern, with no major news or action to keep us busy until the games start to truly matter again.

Thank goodness, then, for some early hot stove action, courtesy of the St. Petereburg Times.  They break down the Rays’ offseason roadmap this morning.  The upshot:  keep the rotation as it is, plan on Longoria, Upton and Zobrist being untouchable, but dangle anyone else and see if a good deal comes along.  Yes, anyone, including Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford and Carlos Peña, all of whom have probably peaked even if a lot of people haven’t noticed it yet.  The goal: get some bullpen help and address the problems at catcher and DH.  Oh, and this is fun:

In a perfect world, the Rays upgrade at catcher or DH without hurting themselves elsewhere. How do you do that? Finding the right match. For instance, the Rays were interested in Milton Bradley last off-season before he signed with the Cubs.

Bradley had a tumultuous season in Chicago — as he has elsewhere — and will probably be traded. If the Rays convince the Cubs that Burrell could excel by returning to the NL in the walk year of his contract, they might have a willing partner. Their 2010 salaries are a wash, but the Rays will have to figure out a way to negate Bradley’s $12 million salary in 2011.

Is it likely? Probably not, but that’s the sort of deal the Rays will probably be seeking.

Yes, you read that correctly. Mere days after he was suspended for being utter cancer to a ballclub, people are out lobbying for Milton Bradley.  And I’m not sure what’s crazier: Bradley himself, the idea to bring him to Tampa Bay, or the fact that I kinda like it.

I know it’s premature, but man you gotta love the hot stove season. Anything can happen and nothing is nuts.

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.