Right-hander Jose Rafael DePaula, who was originally known as Rafael DePaula Figueroa before coming forward with a new name and age, had his visa approved and is finally expected to travel to the U.S. next week for his Yankees physical.
After serving a one-year suspension for falsifying his identity, DePaula was signed by the Yankees in Nov. 2010, receiving a $500,000 bonus. In the 16 months since, he’s worked out at the Yankees’ academy in the Dominican Republic while attempting to secure a visa.
According to his current documentation, DePaula turns 21 on March 24. Baseball America says he was throwing in the mid-90s when he signed with the Yankees, but it also has sources saying he’s reaching the high-90s with his heater now. If true, he could quickly emerge as one of the team’s best prospects this year.
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.