Cleveland’s actual level of interest in Carlos Beltran is unclear, but there’s no doubt that St. Louis is legitimately making a strong run at the free agent outfielder.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch the Cardinals have “intensified their talks” with Beltran and are likely offering him at least a two-year contract.
Several reports have suggested that Beltran will make a decision on his new home by the end of this week, so presumably the Cardinals have put their interest in Coco Crisp on hold until then.
No one can replace Albert Pujols’ production, particularly since the Cardinals have made it clear that they aren’t interested in Prince Fielder, but if healthy and available for a two-year commitment Beltran might be the best all-around value still on the market. He hit .300 with 22 homers and a .910 OPS in 142 games for the Mets and Giants this past season, marking the fifth time in six years he’s topped an .875 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.