The Angels plan on going after Carl Crawford

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Is it too early for some winter hot stove? Nah, never too early.

Ken Rosenthal has a new column up, and it’s got all kinds of random things in it. The thing that caught my eye was his discussion of the Angels’ potential moves this summer, which might include going after a first baseman. They want a rental, though, not a guy under contract for next year, because Kendry Morales will be back. Why not just shift Morales or the new guy to DH?  Because Bobby Abreu will be there. Well wait, why won’t Abreu still be in the outfield?

Because the Angels “intend to pursue Carl Crawford as a free agent,” Rosenthal reports.

All of which makes sense. And despite the fact that the Yankees have been assumed to be Crawford’s ultimate landing spot, the Angels might just try harder to get him. After all, the Crawford-to-the-Yankees speculation arose before Brett Gardner decided to break out to the tune of .309/.396/.415. Not Crawford’s numbers, of course, but a pretty nice cut-market imitation that might inspire the Yankees to look for a different kind of player during their annual winter shopping spree.

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)
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)
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.