Tonight is the deadline for potential free agents to either accept or decline arbitration offers. There won’t be many surprises, but we’ll keep tabs on the more shocking decisions.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, right-hander Grant Balfour has decided to decline the Rays’ offer of arbitration and will test the free agent market instead.
He’s a Type A free agent and will cost any team that signs him a first round draft pick, but Balfour is probably hoping that the stellar 2.28 ERA and 1.08 WHIP that he posted over 55.1 innings this past season will lead to a multi-year contract.
It’s not known if any clubs have expressed interest in the 32-year-old Balfour thus far.
Each of the seven players that were offered arbitration by the Rays have decided to decline.
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.