As expected, the Rangers have removed Alexi Ogando from the playoff roster following his oblique injury last night and replaced him with Dustin Nippert.
It’s a tough break for the Rangers, who were already without their top right-handed setup man in Frank Francisco. Ogando emerged as a viable alternative with a 1.30 ERA in 41.2 regular season innings and six innings of one-run ball this postseason, but now his injury leaves Darren Oliver and Darren O’Day to do an awful lot of heavy lifting in front of closer Neftali Feliz.
And since Ron Washington uses Feliz in such a rigid way the Rangers’ middle relievers and setup men have longer gaps to the closer to bridge than they should anyway. If the Rangers call Nippert into a game then you know something went terribly wrong, because he’s a 29-year-old with a 5.31 ERA in 268 career innings.
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.