ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes thinks the Red Sox open the season with right-hander Daniel Bard with Triple-A Pawtucket:
How Farrell plans to deploy his bullpen at the start of the season is coming into sharper focus. First, even though he says the team has yet to make a decision regarding Daniel Bard, all signs point to Bard opening the season in Pawtucket, which puts Clayton Mortensen on the club.
Between ten starts and seven relief appearances in the big leagues last year, Bard finished with a 6.22 ERA with a significantly-reduced ability to miss bats and a ballooning walk rate. He wasn’t much better in the 32 innings with Pawtucket in the middle of 2012 either, as he posted a 7.03 ERA and a 32-to-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio there. Bard’s star has fallen since being a two-time top-100 prospect as ranked by Baseball America going into the 2007 and 2009 seasons.
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.