Danny Espinosa has played through left shoulder pain for the past week, but after going 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts in three games against the Braves over the weekend the Nationals have decided to give him some time off.
Espinosa, who played 144 of the first 146 games, will miss at least the next three games versus the Dodgers and could be sidelined for longer than that depending on what an MRI exam today reveals.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that Espinosa is so worried about the status of his shoulder that he asked Adam LaRoche if the symptoms resembled what the Nationals first baseman went through with a torn labrum that required surgery last year.
Espinosa has 16 homers and 19 steals this season, but his overall production is fairly mediocre (.250 batting average, .722 OPS) and basically matches his career marks (.240 batting average, .729 OPS). However, toss in stellar defense at second base and losing Espinosa would definitely hurt.
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.