Joe Thatcher was a key part of the Padres’ excellent bullpen last season, making 65 appearances as a left-handed specialist while logging 35 innings with a 1.29 ERA and 45/7 K/BB ratio.
He began this season on the disabled list with a strained shoulder and the Padres announced yesterday that the 28-year-old left-hander will need arthroscopic surgery.
Thatcher told Don Norcross of the San Diego Union Tribune that he’s hoping the labrum damage is minimal, in which case he might be able to return late in the season, but if labrum reconstruction is required he’s looking at a return timetable of 9-12 months and a potentially career-altering recovery.
Norcross notes that Thatcher allowed just one run in his final 40 appearances last season, but he’s been sidelined since the middle of spring training and took three cortisone shots in an effort to heal the injury through rest and rehab.
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.