Last season Scott Baker made just four starts in the second half, including zero after August 8, spending two stints on the disabled list because of elbow problems that once again have the Twins worried this spring.
Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Baker’s “inability to get loose in a B game against Pittsburgh last Saturday raised some red flags” and then his fastball was clocked in the mid-80s while giving up six runs in 1.1 innings.
His next start hasn’t been scheduled yet because pitching coach Rick Anderson wants to see him get through a bullpen session without any issues first, and according to Christensen “this is an issue the Twins will monitor daily.” When healthy Baker was the Twins’ best starter last season, throwing 134 innings with a career-best 3.14 ERA and fantastic 123/32 K/BB ratio.
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.