Last week Jon Heyman reported that people with the Cubs anticipated that Lou Piniella was going to retire at the end of the season. Today Bill Madden reports it as not suspicion, but fact, and given that Madden and Piniella are said to be quite close, it presumably came straight from Piniella’s mouth (UPDATE: The Cubs have now issued a press release, making it official).
It’s been kind of sad to watch Piniella in Chicago these past two years, burdened with some truly wacko players and a roster laden with overpaid underachievers. I don’t know how long the managing fire would have continued to burn in his belly in more ideal circumstances, but I bet he would still be managing in 2011 if it hadn’t been for the headache after headache he’s had to endure with the Cubs.
We’ll have a lot of time for remembrances of Piniella’s career as the season goes on, as he talks about it some and when the curtain finally closes in October. But for now the craziest thing about all of this to me is that he has managed way longer than he ever played. Just seems odd somehow. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, I still think of him as more of a player than a manager.
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.