Albert Pujols and the Cardinals are reportedly no closer to agreeing on a long-term contract, but the two sides have at least agreed to push back the superstar first baseman’s self-imposed deadline for negotiations by one day.
Pujols initially told the team he would cut off all talks Tuesday, but because Hall of Famer and Cardinals legend Stan Musial is scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House tomorrow Pujols has adjusted the deadline to Wednesday at noon Florida time.
Giving the stage to Stan The Man is a nice gesture by Pujols toward his fellow three-time MVP, but most reports suggest that the extra time won’t do much except allow Cardinals fans another day to fret. Last night Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Pujols turned down the Cardinals’ recent offer and he’s said all along that he’s determined to become a free agent if an agreement can’t be reached by the deadline.
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.