So who's the next Cubs manager?

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The Cubs’ press release in which Sweet Lou calls it a career has him announcing his decision to retire now because “it gives Jim Hendry ample time to find the next manager and he doesn’t
need to do so in secrecy.”  I take that as a license to speculate:

  • Ryne Sandberg: That’s the name you’re going to hear over and over. He’s the fan favorite, certainly, and he certainly hasn’t been down managing in the minors for his health. He wants the top job and all indications to date have been that the Cubs are grooming him for it.  I’d have a hard time coming up with reasons why Chicago shouldn’t give Sandberg the job. The best I can think of is that the Cubs are likely to get worse before they get better and the team doesn’t want to saddle their golden boy with a rebuilding project right out of the gate.  But what’s the alternative? Sandberg won’t wait five years, will he? Someone else might snatch him away.
  • Alan Trammell:  The bench coach and my boyhood hero. Sadly, neither of those things qualify him for the job. To be honest, he may be most qualified to be Sandberg’s bench coach because he went through the “local icon takes the reins of his old team when they’re about to suck hard for a couple of years” thing back when the Tigers gave him their top job.
  • The lateral move:  Paul Sullivan throws out some names today, one of which is Joe Torre. I can’t see what the Cubs would gain by bringing in another Piniella figure (i.e. manager emeritus) like Torre would be. It seems right now that the Cubs have to build for the long haul. That counsels hiring a guy closer to age 50 than 70. And wow, I had no idea that Sandberg is 51 already. I still think of him as a really young guy.
  • Field: There are all kinds of Bob Brenly/Bob Melvin/Willie Randolph types hanging around baseball, any number of whom might make sense.  Some of them skew more re-tready.  Others — like Randolph — may be smart hires. I actually think Randolph deserves another shot somewhere, although I think it’s more likely that he’ll hang on in Milwaukee where he’s coaching right now and take over when Ken Macha gets canned, which may be any day.

Sandberg makes the most sense, I think, but who knows what Chicago will do.  College of Coaches anyone?

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.