Chris Carpenter

The State of the Races

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AL EAST

The spread: Both the Yankees and Red Sox lose. New York stays ahead of Boston by two and a half.

The skinny: The Yankees, who just hosted Baltimore, now go down to Baltimore today for a makeup game. I’m sure everyone is thrilled to see these two play yet another game. All they need is rain. Oh, wait, there’s some in the forecast? Fabbo!

AL CENTRAL

The spread: The Tigers beat Cleveland again and the Sox lose. Make that lead nine over Chicago, nine and a half ahead of Cleveland.

The skinny: As long as no other playoff team is able to (a) trade for Shelley Duncan; and (b) circumvent playoff roster rules in a manner that allows him to play in the postseason, Detroit looks pretty good at the moment.

AL WEST

The spread: Rangers lose, Halos win, Texas’ lead is back down to two and a half.

The skinny: Both teams are off today, giving them time to contemplate how they have remained so close this season.

NL EAST

The spread: The Phillies beat the Braves — again — and are now ten and a half up.

The skinny: The Braves are a disaster at the moment and, after a Hurricane Irene-inspired double header today, they head to St. Louis for a three-game series against a Cardinals team that is suddenly only six and a half back in the wild card.

NL CENTRAL

The spread: Cards beat the Brewers — they took five of six from them in the two recent series — and are eight back with 19 to play.

The skinny: As noted above, sweep the wounded Braves and we’ll have an interesting wild card race on our hands.

NL WEST

The spread: Diamondbacks win, Giants lose, and the snakes have a seven-game lead again.

The skinny: The Dbacks play 13 of their last 19 at home.

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.