Aramis Ramirez

UPDATE: Phillies out of hunt for Aramis Ramirez

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1:15 a.m. EST update: Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Phillies have dropped out of the bidding for Aramis Ramirez, leaving the Brewers and Angels as the top contenders to sign the third baseman. According to Knobler, the Phillies have decided to keep Placido Polanco as their third baseman and make another run at re-signing Jimmy Rollins.

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Agent Paul Klinzer told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt that he views the Brewers as “a favorite” to sign Aramis Ramirez.

Klinzer is seeking a three-year deal for Ramirez and said his client is interested in what the Brewers have to offer. The Phillies and Angels appear to be the other primary suitors for Ramirez, who is far and away the top third baseman available in free agency.

If the Brewers can sign Ramirez, they’d make Casey McGehee available in trade talks. They could even non-tender McGehee, though odds are that a team looking for a less expensive third baseman would be interested. Seattle is one possibility there.

Ramirez hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers and 93 RBI for the Cubs last season. A career National Leaguer, he’s had four 30-homer seasons and gone to two All-Star Games. He would have been a late pick to go to a third last season, but he opted to return home to the Dominican Republic instead.

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.