Gordon Beckham benched for light-hitting Brent Lillibridge

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Gordon Beckham was on the bench last night for the second straight game, with manager Ozzie Guillen explaining that Brent Lillibridge will remain in the lineup at second base “for as long as he hits.”
Beckham has followed up his strong rookie season by hitting just .206/.271/.280 with two homers in 72 games, but the good news is that being benched in favor of Lillibridge “for as long as he hits” won’t be very long.
Lillibridge is 7-for-15 with four extra-base hits in his latest stint in Chicago, but prior to that hit just .177/.258/.251 with a 49/17 K/BB ratio in 197 plate appearances as a big leaguer. And he wasn’t much better in the minors, hitting .255/.321/.379 in 1,247 plate appearances at Triple-A. He’s a utility man-caliber hitter, at best.
Beckham has been bad enough that it’s tough to blame Guillen for riding the hot hand and perhaps losing some starts to a marginal big leaguer like Lillibridge will motivate the disappointing sophomore, but it’ll be a surprise if “for as long as he hits” lasts until the end of the week.

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.