On the surface Jose Molina had a pretty ugly season for Tampa Bay, hitting just .223 with a .640 OPS in 274 plate appearances and throwing out a good but not great 33 percent of stolen base attempts.
However, he also spent 710 innings behind the plate catching what was the best pitching staff in the American League and his pitch-calling skills lived up to the hype after offseason research pegged him as the best receiver in baseball.
Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus broke down the numbers and then took things a step further, finding specific video evidence of Molina coaxing strike calls out of umpires on pitches that were clearly outside the strike zone.
It’s a great blend of stats and observation, so check it out: “The 50-Run Receiver”
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.