Red Sox or not, Jason Varitek plans to keep playing in 2011

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Whether or not it’ll be with the Red Sox remains to be seen, but Jason Varitek said yesterday that he plans to play somewhere in 2011.
Varitek has been out since June 30 with a broken foot and played sparingly as Victor Martinez’s backup even before the injury, logging a total of 105 plate appearances and 23 starts through 79 team games, but the 38-year-old done well in the limited action by hitting .263/.324/.547 for his highest OPS since 2004.
He’s also thrown out 21 percent of stolen base attempts after falling to a career-low 13 percent last season, so Varitek should have no trouble finding a job for next season. And while he’ll no doubt have to take a pay cut from the $8 million he’s earned over the past two seasons, Varitek may even find an opportunity for more playing time than he’s gotten behind Martinez in Boston.
He went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and also threw out a runner in his first rehab game at Triple-A yesterday and could be activated from the disabled list as soon as tomorrow. And with Martinez also an impending free agent, returning to Boston in 2011 for a 15th season with the Red Sox probably can’t be ruled out.

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.