Offer or not, Marlins interested in Russ Branyan

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Yesterday afternoon ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reported that “the Marlins offered Russell Branyan a one-year deal with a low base salary and lots of incentives.”
However, today Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that “two sources said the Marlins have NOT made an offer” to Branyan. In addition to putting “not” all in caps Spencer also quotes “one person close to the player” as saying that Stark’s report is “not true.”
Of course, the rest of Spencer’s report sure makes it seem like the Marlins have done everything BUT (see, I can do the all-caps thing too!) make an official offer to Branyan:

The Marlins are “kicking the tires” on a number of left-handed hitters for a bench role, and Russell Branyan is one of them. … [T]he Marlins have merely contacted Branyan’s agent, as they have done with more than a few players, to gauge the situation. It’s possible they might have even tossed around salary figures. But no deal was ever offered.

So they’re interested in Branyan, have talked to his agent, and have probably even discussed the terms of a deal. Why then is Spencer making such a big deal about the difference between that and an actual offer? Perhaps because yesterday he wrote an anti-Branyan screed focusing on strikeouts that ended with: “If the Marlins wind up with this guy, I’ll be surprised.”

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.