Davey Johnson is no Sparky Anderson when it comes to hyperbole. Whereas Anderson would always talk up some young kid as the next Tony Perez and think that everything that ever happened was the most wonderful thing ever, Johnson tends to tell it like it is.
Which is why what he told CSNWashington.com’s Mark Zuckerman was somewhat eye-opening:
When Johnson says this Nationals squad has a chance to be better than the 1984 Mets franchise he inherited and watched improve from 90 wins to 98 wins to 108 wins and a World Series title in just three seasons … well, who are you to argue with the man?
“This club has more potential than that club,” Johnson insisted yesterday. “It actually has more athletes. It has a lot of gifted athletes.”
That’s no small praise. That 1984 team wasn’t yet hitting on all cylinders, but a young Darryl Strawberry and a young Dwight Gooden are about as good as it gets as far as talent-in-waiting goes. Seems like a lot to put on Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg — I view Jayson Werth as a George Foster figure — but it’s Johnson who has to manage those expectations, not us.
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.