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Orioles continue to negotiate with No. 4 overall pick Kevin Gausman

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UPDATE: The Times-Picayune has backtracked from their original story. It now says that Gausman is “seriously considering” a return to LSU. Meanwhile, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America passes along this statement from LSU coach Paul Mainieri:

“Kevin is still in negotiations…any reports portraying his return to LSU as definite are premature.”

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun was told by Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich that the two sides are still talking and are “making progress.”

10:01 PM: We heard earlier today that No. 8 overall pick Mark Appel is leaning toward returning to Stanford for his senior season, but apparently the Pirates aren’t the only team having a tough time reaching an agreement with their first-round selection.

Albert Buford of the New Orleans Times-Picayune was told by a source that No. 4 overall pick right-hander Kevin Gausman will return to LSU for another season rather than sign with the Orioles.

Pretty surprising news, if true. Gausman’s quote in the report is far less definitive, though.

“This is turning out to be a tough decision, but as of now my heart is still with LSU,” Gausman said. “There are still things for me to accomplish as a Tiger.  I still want to play in and win the College World Series, and with a lot of guys coming back next year I believe we can do it.”

“I also believe I’ll only continue to improve and become a more complete pitcher working with (LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn) Gausman said. “I have no problem at all going back to LSU. We’ll see what happens.”

Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton and Mike Zunino have already signed with their respective teams, so Gausman is the highest remaining unsigned pick from this year’s draft. Ironically, the Orioles passed over the chance to take Appel by selecting Gausman.

The slot recommendation for the No. 4 overall pick is $4.2 million, so Gausman would be passing up a large chunk of change to return for his junior season. As such, this is likely a matter of Gausman’s reps putting the pressure on with Friday’s 5:00 p.m. ET deadline looming. Of course, because the new CBA limits draft spending, the Orioles can only offer so much without losing next year’s first-round pick.

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.