Carlos Marmol Getty

Carlos Marmol is back as the Cubs’ closer

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Carlos Marmol notched his first save since May 2 yesterday against the Red Sox, but in typical Marmol-fashion, it wasn’t easy.

Marmol gave up a one-out single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia before Mike Aviles reached on a fielding error by third baseman Luis Valbuena. He then struck out Daniel Nava looking before walking Scott Podsednik to load the bases. However, he was able to get Dustin Pedroia to ground out to end it.

While the appearance hardly inspires confidence moving forward, Cubs manager Dale Sveum revealed after the game that the erratic right-hander will continue to serve as the closer. According to Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune, Sveum said he made the move “to solidify the bullpen somewhat.” No word on if he said that with a straight face. Then again, the Cubs don’t have many great options in their bullpen right now.

Marmol has an ugly 5.79 ERA and 21/22 K/BB ratio in 18 2/3 innings this season, including a 4.91 ERA and 9/6 K/BB ratio over 7 1/3 innings since returning from a hamstring strain at the end of May. Moving him back to the closer role is a way to showcase him for a potential trade, but given that he’s making $7 million this season and $9.8 million next year, that’s going to be a pretty tough sell.

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)
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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.