For the second straight season a spring training injury has put Brewers prospect Mat Gamel’s chances of cracking the Opening Day roster in jeopardy.
Last spring a shoulder injury caused Gamel to begin the season on the disabled list and he ended up spending nearly the entire year at Triple-A, getting just 15 at-bats with the Brewers.
This time around he has a strained oblique muscle and the Brewers will shut him down for at least seven days and perhaps significantly longer given how much that type of injury tends to linger.
If healthy Gamel is expected to serve as a utility man this season, drawing starts at the infield and outfield corners while trying to show that he’s capable of stepping into the lineup full time at first base next season if/when Prince Fielder departs via trade or free agency.
Gamel has consistently posted strong numbers at Triple-A and held his own in a 61-game stint with the Brewers in 2009, but his shaky defense at third base caused him to fall behind Casey McGehee on the depth chart and Fielder’s presence across the diamond along with Ryan Braun and Corey Hart being entrenched in the outfield corners has left the 25-year-old former top prospect without an obvious spot in the lineup.
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.