Can Ubaldo Jimenez be the first 30-game winner since 1968?

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The answer is no, of course, but “Ubaldo Jimenez probably won’t win 30 games, but let’s talk about him anyway” really isn’t much of a headline as far as headlines go.
Jimenez notched his 14th victory Monday in his team’s 76th game, which seemed to me like a pretty amazing feat but actually isn’t all that rare. According to the indispensable and highly addicting Play Index on Baseball-Reference.com, Jimenez became the 45th player in baseball history with at least 14 wins in his team’s first 76 games.
The most recent pitchers to do so were Pedro Martinez in 1999, John Smoltz in 1996, Bret Saberhagen in 1987, Roger Clemens in 1986, Joaquin Andujar in 1985, and Steve Carlton in 1980. None of those guys won 30 games, because the last pitcher to win 30 games was Denny McClain in 1968.
However, if Jimenez can win again in his next start Saturday night that would give him 15 wins in 81 team games, which would further thin the field historically and put him on pace for exactly 30 wins. He’ll be facing Barry Zito and the Giants, and Jimenez hasn’t pitched well in back-to-back outings, but if he can pick up the victory he’ll become just the 34th pitcher with at least 15 wins through 81 team games.
Pedro in 1999 and Andujar in 1985 are the only pitchers to do so since 1980, and they finished with 23 and 21 wins, respectively. All of which shows the incredible difficultly of winning 30 games while pitching in a five-man rotation. As amazing as Jimenez has been, he’d have to duplicate his first-half performance and get the same kind of lineup and bullpen support to rarely take a loss or even a no-decision.
Twenty-five wins is much more feasible, and Bob Welch in 1990 is the last pitcher to do that.

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.