After an excellent rookie season as a reliever in 2010 the Rangers moved Alexi Ogando into the rotation last year with good results, as he started 29 games with a 3.51 ERA and 126/43 K/BB ratio in 169 innings.
Normally that would be enough to lock a 28-year-old pitcher into the rotation long term, but T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers have decided to reverse course and move Ogando back to the bullpen despite having him build up arm strength as a starter all spring.
Ogando threw six innings in a start yesterday and has made it very clear that he wants to remain a starter. No official announcement has been made yet, but according to Sullivan it’s just a matter of time before manager Ron Washington breaks the bullpen news to Ogando.
Last spring Neftali Feliz staying in the bullpen gave Ogando an opportunity to prove himself as a starter. This spring Feliz moving to the rotation will apparently take that opportunity away. His versatility is a nice luxury for the Rangers, as Ogando was unhittable as a rookie reliever in 2010 with a 1.30 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 42 innings, and of course given how few teams make it through a season needing just five starters his days in the rotation may not be finished.
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.