A month ago the Mariners declined their $4.5 million option on Jose Lopez for 2011 and since then they’ve no doubt been trying to find another team interesting in trading for him with an eye toward taking Lopez to arbitration at a lower salary.
Not surprisingly there were apparently no takers for the disappointing infielder and Mike Salk of 710-ESPN in Seattle reports that the Mariners will non-tender Lopez prior to tomorrow night’s deadline.
Lopez looked like a promising all-around player early in his career, making an All-Star team at age 22 and flashing 25-homer power at times, but his overall game hasn’t developed one bit in seven seasons. He still swings at everything, canceling out the occasionally good power with a miserable .297 career on-base percentage, and has packed on pounds while moving from second base to third base defensively.
Despite seemingly being around forever Lopez is still just 27 years old, but the days of anyone viewing him as a potential star are long gone and after six straight seasons with at least 550 plate appearances he may have to settle for a part-time job in 2011.
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.