Miguel Cairo

The Reds are just toying with the rest of the league

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That’s my feeling anyway. Manager Dusty Baker went so far as to start Miguel Cairo at first base Wednesday, yet the Reds beat the Diamondbacks 6-2 to complete a three-game sweep in Arizona.

Cairo, who entered the game with a .168/.198/.264 line in 125 at-bats this season, went 0-for-4. It should be noted that this is hardly the first time Cairo has played first for Cincinnati this year; he’s started 14 games there and hit .200 with two walks and three extra-base hits in 50 at-bats.

But the really astonishing thing is that the last couple of times Cairo has started at first base, Todd Frazier has played third with Scott Rolen resting. So, not only is Cairo one of the game’s weakest hitters, but Baker also seems to think he’s a worse third baseman than Frazier, a guy who has never been known for his defense. In fact, Cairo has played 136 innings at first base this year and just 107 innings elsewhere (69 at third, 38 at second).

Of course, none of this has really hurt the Reds at all, considering they’re sitting pretty with the game’s best record. They could go ahead and try Chris Heisey at short if they wanted to and still finish atop the NL Central. Consider that they’ve gotten two homers in four starts from Dioner Navarro, this really does seem to be their year.

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.