Kyle Kendrick throwing AP

Phillies, Kyle Kendrick avoid arbitration with $3.6 million deal

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Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.585 million.

Kendrick earned $2.45 million last season in his first year of arbitration eligibility and threw 115 innings with a 3.22 ERA while splitting time between the rotation and bullpen.

He’s slated for a bullpen role this season because the Phillies have Joe Blanton in the fifth spot behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Vance Worley, but Kendrick will likely be called upon to start at some point.

Kendrick’s career strikeout rate of 4.1 per nine innings is the fourth-worst of any active pitcher with at least 500 innings and his control isn’t even particularly great, yet he has a decent 4.41 ERA in 598 frames through age 26. However, this could be a make-or-break year for Kendrick in Philadelphia, because his salary rising any higher via arbitration next season would strain the payroll for a fifth starter/long reliever.

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)
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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.