That’s what Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is hearing:
The feeling is that if the Rays’ financial picture gets any gloomier,
Crawford will be trade bait by the trading deadline or even earlier. In
fact, both he and Carlos Pena could have new addresses at some point in the season.
This really shouldn’t surprise anyone. The 28-year-old Crawford — who had his $10 million option picked up by the Rays in November — is on the verge of hitting free agency for the first time. General manager Andrew Friedman has expressed a desire to lock Crawford up with an extension, but knowing that he could receive a contract equal to, if not better than what Chone Figgins and Jason Bay found this winter, it would be a surprise to see him take a discount.
The loss of Crawford would be a blow, both for his contributions on offense and defense, but fortunately the Rays have 23-year-old outfielder Desmond Jennings quickly rising through their minor league system. There’s many who say he’s ready to contribute at a high level in the major leagues right now, so while I wouldn’t expect Friedman to operate with any particular timetable in mind, it would be an easier sell to the fan base if they were looking up at the Red Sox and Yankees in July.
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.
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.