The Phillies have already agreed to a one-year contract with veteran slugger Jim Thome, but they are also moving aggressively on another one of their offseason targets.
According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the Phillies are “in serious pursuit” of free agent Michael Cuddyer.
Cuddyer, who turns 33 in March, batted .284/.346/.459 with 20 homers, 70 RBI, 11 stolen bases and an .805 OPS over 584 plate appearances this season while making starts at first base, second and in right field. Ryan Howard is at risk of missing the start of the season following surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, so the versatile veteran would seem to be an ideal fit.
Salisbury notes that the Type A free agent is being pursued “by a number of teams,” which comes as no big surprise. It doesn’t sound like there’s anything imminent, but if the Phillies are able to strike quickly, that could mean Cuddyer either really wants to come to Philadelphia or he is being made an offer that can’t be topped elsewhere.
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.