Marlon Byrd, Wandy Rodriguez

The Astros are on pace to finish 53-109

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It’s simply not fair that the Mariners are suddenly dominating the conversation on terrible teams.  Even after 15 straight losses, they have nothing on the Astros.  Houston is a full 10 games worse than Seattle this season, having gone 33-68 through 101 games.

That puts the Astros on pace to finish with a 53-109 record that would be the worst since the 2004 Diamondbacks went 51-111.

Here’s a list of all the teams since 1996 that failed to win at least 60 games:

2003 Tigers: 43-119
2004 Diamondbacks: 51-111
1996 Tigers: 53-109
1998 Marlins: 54-108
2002 Devil Rays: 55-106
2002 Tigers: 55-106
2002 Brewers: 56-106
2005 Royals: 56-106
2010: Pirates: 57-105
2004 Royals: 58-104
2009 Nationals: 59-103
2008 Nationals: 59-102

Astros fans can take hope that the three worst teams here improved by 29, 26 and 26 games the following year.  However, given the current state of the Astros farm system and the possibility that the team may subtract talent in trades, one can’t help but wonder if the 2011-12 Astros might join the 2008-09 Nationals as repeat offenders.

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.