Jon Lester told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that the Red Sox have not talked to him about negotiating a long-term contract extension as he enters the final guaranteed year of his current deal.
Of course, after paying him $11.625 million for this season the Red Sox will hold a $13 million team option on Lester for 2014, so there’s no real sense of urgency.
With that said, if the Red Sox are confident that Lester will bounce back from a career-worst season they could certainly save some money by trying to lock him up long term now. After four straight seasons with a sub-3.50 ERA his ERA ballooned to 4.82 ERA last year as Lester saw his strikeout rate plummet and allowed opponents to hit .273 off him.
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.