Tyler Colvin

How much longer will Cubs keep Tyler Colvin up?

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I was wrong a year ago: I thought the Cubs made a mistake by keeping Tyler Colvin based on his strong spring. Given his lack of plate discipline, I figured he’d be back in the minors by May 1 and I had serious doubts that he’d ever make much of a contribution to the cause.

Colvin, though, made quite an impact as a rookie, collecting 20 homers and driving in 56 runs in 358 at-bats. He did strike out 100 times, but he worked 30 walks. He ended up with more homers, more walks and a higher OPS than he had in 459 at-bats between high-A and Double-A in 2009.

However, Colvin’s success didn’t cause the Cubs to make him a regular as a sophomore. He probably would have been penciled into right field if the team could have found a taker for Kosuke Fukudome’s contract, but that didn’t materialize, and the Cubs decided to sign Carlos Pena rather than turn Colvin into a first baseman.

As a result, the Cubs kept him as a fourth outfielder, figuring he’d get plenty of time in the corners if Alfonso Soriano and Fukudome continued to fail to live up to their contracts.

They probably didn’t anticipate Soriano leading the league in homers or Fukudome maintaining a .456 on-base percentage six weeks into the season. Colvin made 12 starts in April, most of them at Fukudome’s expense, but with his average south of .150, he’s hardly played at all since. He’s made just one start in May, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against the Reds on Saturday.

The obvious move now is for the Cubs to demote Colvin, and it’s pretty surprising that they haven’t done so. Colvin is hitting just .115/.194/.262 with two homers in 61 at-bats. He hasn’t made an impact as a pinch-hitter, having gone 1-for-8. Since the Cubs have Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson to serve as backup outfielders, they’d be just fine there without him.

So, getting Colvin at least two or three weeks of regular at-bats in Triple-A looks like a no-brainer. It’s just odd that it hasn’t happened already.

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)
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)
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.