General manager Chris Antonetti said yesterday that the Indians have Travis Hafner in their plans for 2012 despite the oft-injured designated hitter missing 70 games with shoulder and foot problems.
That isn’t a surprise, as Hafner is under contract for $13 million in 2012 and remains plenty productive when healthy enough to play, but Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that “they could cut the cord on the biggest deal in Indians history and start over at DH.”
They’re paying him that money either way, and having him around as even a part-time bat is plenty useful considering Hafner hit .280 with 13 homers, 16 doubles, and an .811 OPS in 94 games. His contract has been a huge bust and Hafner can’t be counted on to play even 100 games at this point, but he led the team in OPS.
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.