The Angels have been mentioned at different times this winter as a potential landing spot for free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse. But it doesn’t sound like they are even going to make an offer to him.
According to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, the Halos are “not expected to be players on Lohse” no matter how low his price drops because their payroll is maxed out at about $160 million and they like their current crop of starting rotation candidates. They’re also said to be “unsure” about how his numbers might hold up in a return to the American League.
And then there’s the new free agent compensation system which would require the Angels to give up more draft pool money in order to sign Lohse. They already forfeited their 2013 first-round pick and the allotted budget that comes with it by signing free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. Lohse triggered that compensation by declining a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals when the offseason began.
Lohse, 34, posted a 2.86 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 211 innings last year for St. Louis. He and his agent, Scott Boras, are likely hoping that teams will get desperate for starting pitching help as spring training draws closer.
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.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”