An expected move, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that the Phillies have declined their half of Placido Polanco’s $5.5 million mutual option for 2013.
Polanco will receive a $1 million buyout and will become a free agent. This was a pretty easy call for the Fightins, as the 37-year-old was limited to just 90 games this season due to back, knee and finger injuries and batted just .257/.302/.327 with two home runs, 19 RBI and a career-low .629 OPS in 328 plate appearances. After signing a three-year, $18 million deal during his last stint as a free agent, Polanco will almost certainly have to settle for a one-year deal with a modest base salary this time around. His days as a starting player are likely over.
As of now, the Phillies intend to keep Chase Utley at second base next season, so Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis are the most likely in-house alternatives at third base. Neither option inspires much confidence, so Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. figures to explore the free agent and trade markets.
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.