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Royals seeking “front-line” starter this offseason

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The Royals are pleased with the strides that top position prospects Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez made in 2011. But the Royals also know that they’re going to need an improved starting rotation to reach their organizational goal of competing in 2012, and that the desired upgrade might have to come from an outside source.

Which is why, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, the Royals’ front office is beginning to consider all options. Including a potential free agent deal or even a prospect-based trade.

The free agent market for starters this winter will be quite bleak. Or maybe we should call it shallow. CC Sabathia is likely to opt out of his contract in New York, but all signs point to him returning to the Yankees with a slightly fatter wallet. Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson will be available, but over half the league will be interested in him and it’s doubtful Kansas City will be able to put together a competitive bid.

Then there’s Edwin Jackson, an impending free agent right-hander currently pitching for the cross-state Cardinals. Dutton says the Royals “figure to make a run” at the 28-year-old and his high-velocity fastball.

A trade is another option. Despite this year’s callups, the Royals’ farm system remains loaded with talent and a Royals official suggested to the Star that prospects Cheslor Cuthbert, Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi could be made available. “Now, it has to be the right guy,” cautioned the unnamed exec.

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.