Brandon Inge Getty

Brandon Inge has turned back into a pumpkin

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Brandon Inge got released by the Tigers in late April, signed with the A’s, and suddenly starting smacking homers in bunches, leading to all sorts of fawning words being written as if the past five years hadn’t happened and he was simply back to being a productive regular at age 35.

Inge’s power surge lasted much longer than I would guessed, as he delivered four homers and 17 RBIs in his first 11 games for Oakland, but that resurgence was interrupted by a disabled list stint for a groin injury and … well, he’s been terrible ever since.

Inge returned from the DL on May 28 and has played 38 games since, hitting .212 with two homers, and a .299 slugging percentage to go with a .281 on-base percentage and ghastly 41/13 K/BB ratio. In other words, Inge has resumed hitting–or not hitting–exactly like he did from 2007 to 2011, when he batted .227 with a .308 on-base percentage and .376 slugging percentage in 671 games for the Tigers.

As the A’s climb above .500 and become surprise playoff contenders in the American League one of the easiest upgrades they could possibly make would be finding a capable third baseman to supplant Inge.

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.