It was reported last month that Albert Pujols and his agent Dan Lozano would cut off contract talks with the Cardinals if an extension wasn’t reached by spring training. We have been operating under the assumption that his self-imposed deadline was going to be February 19. Turns out he’ll be an early arrival.
ESPN.com and Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports both reported this afternoon that Pujols will report to spring training on February 16, three days earlier than his original reported deadline.
Craig asked a little bit earlier if we could glean anything from a report that the Cardinals have yet to make an offer for Pujols. He even wondered if perhaps Pujols and/or his agent are beginning to leak information in order to put some public pressure on the Cardinals. We’re not privy to whether the Cardinals were aware of this new deadline prior to this information being reported this afternoon, but moving up the deadline could certainly do the trick.
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.