This season officially begins later this month when the A’s play a two-game series against the Mariners in Japan, but left-hander Dallas Braden will not make the trip with the team as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Braden threw 45 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday, but told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that “it would behoove me to stay here” and continue his rehab schedule uninterrupted.
Braden underwent surgery on May 17 of last season and according to Slusser the A’s are targeting mid-May for his return to the rotation, but he still has plenty of hurdles to clear first and has yet to throw off-speed pitches from a mound. There’s obviously a spot waiting for Braden in the A’s rebuilt rotation, but at this point counting on him for more than 20 starts is probably wishful thinking.
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.