Fowler's leap propels Rockies' big inning

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It was exactly the kind of move one might expect from a player who had a chance to play basketball at Harvard.
Fortunately, Dexter Fowler passed on that opportunity and took a $925,000 bonus to sign with the Rockies after being selected in the 14th round in 2004. On Monday, with the Phillies up 2-1 in the eighth, Fowler leapt over Chase Utley on a potential double-play ball, distracting the second baseman and causing a poor throw to second. The Phillies ended up with no outs on the play, and the Rockies went on to score three times and for a 4-2 lead.
In this case, it was probably more athleticism than smarts from Fowler that allowed him to avoid Utley, who had thrown himself into the baserunner’s path in an effort to field the ball. A collision seemed the likely result initially, but Fowler edged to the right and jumped over Utley’s back before sliding into second. Utley did get the throw away, but it wasn’t where Jimmy Rollins expected it and Rollins ended up being charged with an error after it rolled away.
Fowler had reached base on a walk versus Cliff Lee. He singled previously in the game. The rookie had to be disappointed because of the events of Sunday’s game, when he was removed in favor of Jason Giambi in the ninth despite already collecting two hits in the game. Giambi popped out against Brad Lidge with the tying run on, and the Rockies went on to lose by one.
The switch-hitting Fowler found himself on the bench frequently against righties down the stretch because of the play of Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez. However, he’s started every game of the NLDS with the Phillies throwing nothing but lefties and he’ll be in there again Tuesday against Cole Hamels, if the Rockies go on to win tonight. He should be locked in as the Rockies’ center fielder next year, with Gonzalez presumably playing regularly in left or right.

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.