Juan Samuel

Juan Samuel could wind up back with Philly

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No, not as a second basemen or outfielder, sadly. As a first base coach. That according to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, who notes that Samuel did not take part in the Orioles’ organizational meetings last week and may be in line to take over Davey Lopes’ old job with the Phils.

The last time I said something about first base coaches — I think I dismissed their importance — a lot of you countered with the notion that they’re important to have for base stealing purposes, as they see every opposing pitcher on every pitch, and thus are invaluable in teaching their own base runners how to read moves and stuff.  It’s an excellent and rather obvious point, in hindsight, that I’m rather embarrassed that I didn’t consider.

Which also makes me understand why so many Phillies fans were sad to see Lopes go. In his career he was an 80% base stealer. Samuel, in contrast, was only successful about two-thirds of the time. While the Phillies are perceived as a take-and-rake kind of team, the fact is that they were fourth in the NL in stolen bases in 2010, and were caught stealing fewer times than every single team in the league.  You probably have to give Davy Lopes credit for that, and you probably have to wonder if Juan Samuel — who was a less-successful base stealer than his speed should have had him being — will be able to maintain that kind of success.

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.