So far, so good for Dustin McGowan's comeback

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Dustin McGowan missed all of last season following shoulder surgery, but manager Cito Gaston reports that he “looked good” during a two-inning simulated game yesterday.
McGowan tossed 44 pitches, after which Gaston noted that “he threw well, free and easy.” He’s now scheduled to appear in a minor-league game Friday and if that goes well Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun reports that McGowan is tentatively slated to make his official spring training debut in a big-league game “around March 24.”
That would leave time for just 2-3 spring appearances and likely wouldn’t be sufficient to make McGowan an option for the Opening Day roster, although Gaston has yet to rule it out. Instead, expect McGowan to begin the season on the disabled list and remain behind in extended spring training before heading out on a minor-league rehab assignment.
Before the injury he was emerging as one of the league’s top young starters, but McGowan hasn’t faced big-league hitters since July of 2008 and even avoiding all setbacks likely wouldn’t get him back into the Blue Jays’ rotation before late April or early May.

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.