Franklin Gutierrez suffered an oblique strain during Sunday’s game and is expected to miss the rest of the year, says the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker.
Gutierrez ends a disastrous season with a .224/.262/.273 line in 322 at-bats. He missed the first seven weeks with a stomach condition that was eventually diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. After debuting on May 18, he homered in his sixth game back, but then went the next three-plus months without one. He drove in a total of 19 runs all season.
Regarded by some as the best defensive center fielder in baseball, Gutierrez was an All-Star-caliber performer when he hit .283/.339/.425 with 18 homers and 70 RBI in his first season in Seattle in 2009. However, his OPS has dipped from .764 then to .666 in 2010 and .535 this year. If not for the long-term deal he signed, he’d probably be a candidate to be non-tendered this winter. Instead, he’s guaranteed $5.5 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013.
An offseason spent working out and regaining strength could make Gutierrez a different player in 2012. The Mariners have no choice but to hope that’s the case. They do have center field alternatives in Casper Wells, Greg Halman and Michael Saunders, but it’s unlikely that any of them will ever be as valuable as Gutierrez was two years ago.
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.