UPDATE: Alex Speier of WEEI.com says it’s a done deal. Boston has agreed to a three-year contract with Victorino.
Just a few hours after Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com called the Indians “a prime suitor” for Shane Victorino, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are “frontrunners” for Victorino by making him a three-year, $38 million offer.
I suppose one team being the frontrunner doesn’t preclude another team from being “a” prime suitor, but whatever the case it now seems clear that Victorino is going to get a big multi-year contract at age 31 and coming off a season in which he hit just .255 with a .704 OPS.
Of course, Angel Pagan is 31 years old and just got a four-year, $40 million deal to re-sign with the Giants. Pagan was much better than Victorino in 2012, but combined during the past three seasons Pagan has a .749 OPS and Victorino has a .766 OPS.
One big difference is that the Red Sox presumably would play Victorino is a corner spot, assuming they don’t trade Jacoby Ellsbury, but as early-30s center fielders with .750-OPS bats they’re potentially pretty similar. Unless you’re convinced Victorino showed signs of simply being washed up down the stretch, in which case $38 million is pretty scary.
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.