With spring training right around the corner Jason Varitek doesn’t have a job and agent Scott Boras said yesterday that the 40-year-old catcher “is deliberating what he wants to do.”
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe makes it clear that “there’s no room on the Red Sox roster for him” after they signed Kelly Shoppach to platoon with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and speculates that Varitek is pondering retirement after 14 seasons.
Ivan Rodriguez also remains unsigned, so Varitek may not even be a team’s main emergency target if a catcher gets hurt during spring training. Varitek hit .221 with a .300 on-base percentage and .423 slugging percentage in 68 games last season, which is actually right around average production for a catcher, but he also threw out just 14 percent of steal attempts as teams ran wild on him.
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.