Bud Selig’s comments about the expanded playoffs being inevitable may have been a bit premature. That’s because, as Jayson Stark reports, the league and the union — which has to sign off on any plan — haven’t gotten all that far along in the process. Michael Weiner:
“We’ve had healthy discussions at the bargaining table about a lot of different schedule formats. Included in those discussions were several formats which expand the playoffs in one form or another. But neither side has made any proposals. So it’s just too early in the bargaining process to predict or guess where it’s going to land.”
That said, the union did signal last year that it is not opposed to the idea in principal. And make no mistake: Weiner is very good at saying when the union is opposed to something on a fundamental level. This is not that, though. This is Weiner talking about details here, and he’s being cautious in doing so. Nothing I have seen or heard about all of this suggests that it’s not going to happen.
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.