Reliever Luis Ayala unharmed in kidnapping attempt

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Relief pitcher Luis Ayala, who is under a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was unharmed when gunmen stormed his house in Culiacan, Mexico, on Tuesday in an apparent kidnapping attempt.

Martin Robles, a spokesman for the state prosecutors’ office, said investigators believed Ayala was the intended victim, whom police prevented from being abducted.

Robles said gunmen in three vehicles forced their way into Ayala’s home near the city of Los Mochis on Monday by shooting open the door.

The assailants were apparently scared off when soldiers arrived at the scene after police received an emergency phone call. Ayala and his family were not hurt, though the pitcher was found handcuffed.

Ayala is 29-39 with a 3.67 ERA in six seasons with the Expos/Nats, Mets, Twins and Marlins.

This is just the latest is what seems to be a growing trend. In November, the mother of former pitcher Victor Zambrano was kidnapped and later rescued, and last season, the son of catcher Yorvit Torrealba was also kidnapped.

Just last month Mets ace Johan Santana returned to Venezuela, but not without a security detail for he and his family.

You have to wonder at what point “going home” simply isn’t worth the danger anymore, for both the player and his family.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

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.