Peter Gammons just tweeted the following:
Rumblings around St. Pete ballpark was a BJ
Upton-Cliff Lee deal. 3-way?
The only other time I’ve seen the Rays mentioned in Cliff Lee talk is when they’re lumped in those sentences that begin with “besides the Mets and the Twins, many other teams could conceivably get in on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes . . .” Not that there isn’t some sense to this. B.J. Upton and the Rays seem to be on the outs and it seems like the Rays need some sort of kick to help them regain control on the AL East.
Still, offense — not starting pitching — is the Rays’ biggest concern and with Franklin Gutierrez around, what interest do the Mariners have in acquiring a centerfielder? For this to work the Rays would likely have to give up a nice shiny something from their deep farm system, not B.J. Upton. Or, as Gammons suggests, it would have to be a three-way deal. Maybe the Braves — who could use an outfielder and would like to see Lee anywhere other than on the Mets roster — get involved. Not that I want them to get Upton.
Ultimately I think Gammons’ use of the word “rumblings” is right. Nothing too specific was said and nothing too loudly. Just loose talk among the girls at the ballpark, ya know?
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.