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Astros catcher Jason Castro likely to undergo knee surgery

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Astros manager Brad Mills announced today that 24-year-old starting catcher Jason Castro will likely need surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

According to Mills there’s no timetable yet for Castro’s recovery because “they’re going to have to see once they get in there how much damage and what they have to do.” As the photo to the right shows, Castro suffered the injury while running to first base during Wednesday’s game.

Castro was the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft and made his big-league debut in June of last season, hitting just .205 with a .573 OPS in 67 games. Houston is committed to making him the everyday catcher this season and his minor-league numbers are significantly better, although still don’t suggest much star potential.

Humberto Quintero was the Astros’ primary catcher prior to Castro’s call-up last season and would likely be pushed back into a similar role, with one-time prospect J.R. Towles perhaps getting a final shot to show that he belongs in the majors as a backup. Quintero is 31 years old and has hit just .232 with a .593 OPS in his career, but even those putrid numbers look good compared to Towles’ career .189 batting average, although he’s at least put up some good numbers at Triple-A in between the various big-league struggles.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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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.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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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.