The Phillies released Dontrelle Willis last Friday after he allowed five runs on five hits and four walks over 2 2/3 innings this spring, but it didn’t take him long to find a new home.
As first reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Willis has latched on with the Orioles on a minor league deal. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun adds that it’s a split contract worth $700,000 for time spent in the majors.
Willis posted a 5.00 ERA and 57/37 K/BB ratio over 75 2/3 innings with the Reds last season, but the 30-year-old had a .127 batting average against and a 20/2 K/BB ratio against left-handed batters. The Phillies inked him to a one-year, $850,000 deal over the winter with the idea of using him as a left-handed specialist, but they quickly threw in the towel after he dealt with arm fatigue and was showing diminished velocity this spring. It’s not clear whether the O’s intend to use him as a starter or a reliever.
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.