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The Texas Rangers are dominating early All-Star balloting

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The first vote-tallies have been released from the All-Star Game. Gentlemen, start your outrage!

Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp are Major League Baseball’s top overall vote-getters in the first balloting figures for the 83rd All-Star Game … Hamilton, a four-time A.L. All-Star, has received 2,587,991 votes as he attempts to make his fifth consecutive fan-elected start … Kemp (1,952,910) leads all N.L. vote-getters and ranks second in the Majors, trailing only Hamilton.

By position, the leaders break down thusly. And yes, for the AL these are All-Stars, not just the Rangers starting lineup:

American League:  C: Mike Napoli; 1B: Prince Fielder; 2B: Ian Kinsler; SS: Derek Jeter; 3B: Adrian Beltre; OF: Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz; DH David Ortiz.

National League: C: Yadier Molina; 1B: Joey Votto; 2B: Dan Uggla; SS: Troy Tulowitzki; 3B: David Wright; OF: Kemp, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun.

Lots of Rangers and Cardinals in second place as well, which tells you a lot about attendance, how good their teams are and all of that. And the fact that, unlike in many recent years, Yankees players aren’t dominating in the early voting, suggests that the Yankees fans are feeling somewhat “meh” about things this year.

Lots of voting to go. And no, it won’t bear too close a relationship to who is actually doing the best at each position this year. But then again it never has, so things are pretty normal.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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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.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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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.