Japan's Hall of Fame is tougher than ours

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Three players were inducted into Japan’s baseball hall of fame.  One player who didn’t make it:

Chunichi manager Hiromitsu Ochiai, a three-time batting Triple Crown winner, missed by one vote for the second year in a row.

In addition to winning the triple crown thrice, Ochiai won two additional batting titles in non-Triple Crown years, two additional home run titles in non-Triple Crown years, was a two-time MVP, hit 510 home runs and had an OPS of .987 in a 20 year career that seems to have followed the usual sort of arc for a superstar. He also won a Japan Series as a manager.

I’ll confess that I know nothing about the intricacies of Japanese Hall of Fame elections, but until told otherwise I’m going to assume that he either (a) was tied to some sort of scandal; or (b) that esteemed Japanese baseball writer Jay-san Mariottizuka mailed in a blank ballot.

(thanks to Bob T. — who reports that, among the media, Ochiai had a bad reputation for being cocky, which probably explains all of this — for the heads up) 

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.