Scot Shields was perhaps the elite setup man of the aughts (we really need a better name for 2000-2009), posting a 2.98 ERA from 2002-2008 while averaging around 90 innings per season, but ended the decade on a low note with an injury wrecked 2009 campaign and is now unlikely to be ready for spring training.
Shields had knee surgery about eight months ago, but has not been cleared to throw off a mound yet and Angels pitchers report to camp next Wednesday. He’s still hoping to be ready for Opening Day, but that seems unlikely given that Shields is 35, logged just 18 innings last season before being shut down, and has yet to get back on a mound eight months later.
I don’t know how quickly I’ll get on a mound. We’ll probably have to take it slow. We’ve got a whole month and a half or two months to get ready. I know my body. It’s close to being 100 percent, and we’ve still got two months.
Shields may still believe that he can be ready for Opening Day, but the Angels’ lack of confidence in him returning to form was shown by overpaying Fernando Rodney with a two-year, $11 million deal despite already having Kevin Jepsen around as a potential setup man for Brian Fuentes. Even if he’s healthy, Shields figures to begin the season working middle relief.
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.