UPDATE: David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com hears that the deal is very close, but isn’t finalized yet.
3:22 PM: We’ve heard reports over the past couple of days that the Cubs and Starlin Castro were close to agreeing on a long-term contract extension. The deal is now in place.
According to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com, the Cubs and Castro have agreed to a seven-year, $60 million extension with a $16 million club option for 2020.
Castro was projected to qualify for arbitration this winter as a Super Two player, so the deal covers all four years of arbitration eligibility and three years of free agency. He will be signed through his age-29 season.
Castro, 22, entered play this afternoon with a .297/.333/.422 batting line over his first three seasons in the big leagues. He continues to have his share of mental errors and his plate discipline, fielding and baserunning all have room for improvement, but Theo Epstein and company have sent a clear message that they consider their young shortstop an important building block.
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.