The Rays have been extra careful with prized left-hander Matt Moore this week as he dealt with a lower abdominal strain, but he is finally close to getting back on a mound.
Moore has played catch each of the last three days without incident and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session today.
Rays head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield told Bill Chastian of MLB.com that Moore will likely have two bullpen sessions before throwing live batting practice. Rays manager Joe Maddon hasn’t ruled out the possibility of him pitching in a game next week.
Moore had a 2.89 ERA and 15/3 K/BB ratio over 9 1/3 innings down the stretch with the Rays last season and allowed one run over 10 innings against the Rangers during the ALDS. The 22-year-old signed an extension with the Rays in December, so he is virtually assured of a spot in the starting rotation if healthy now that his service time is no longer an issue. Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman recently confirmed that Moore will not be subject to an innings limit for his rookie season.
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.