Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times reports that Matt Kemp checked into camp at 215 pounds. Last year he was at 230.
After Pablo Sandoval, I think that Kemp’s weight may be the most significant conditioning story of spring training. No, not because he was fat like Sandoval or anything. But because I don’t think anyone suffered more last season from the perception that he was dogging it or lackadaisical or unfocused or whatever than Kemp did. His defense and base running suffered in 2010. That could be because of mental issues, but it might also have been because of physical ones. And no matter what the cause was, people were all OVER him for it.
If it was a mental block or something else altogether we’ll probably know once the season gets going. But by coming into camp slimmed down like he has, Kemp will at least buy himself a little more goodwill before anyone jumps on his case.
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.