A year ago the Marlins hype was hard to avoid. A new ballpark, new uniforms, a bunch of high-profile signings. Yesterday was the Marlins Winter Warm Up event — formerly known as Fan Fest — and things are … different. From Joe Capozzi in the Palm Beach Post:
And while there was a festive atmosphere today at Marlins Park, the number of fans who attended the annual pre-season event was low. There were just three people in line at the main ticket window at 9:35 a.m. — 25 minutes before single-game tickets went on sale … And at least three people wore protest gear — two fans with anti-Loria shirts and a man who wore a Blue Jays cap to show his opposition to the trade.
Three people wearing protest gear is not the end of the world, obviously. And a lack of fans clamoring for Marlins tickets is not exactly a new phenomenon. But it’s hard to escape the fact that the events of the past year haven’t soured locals on the team more than they already were.
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.