The Royals won their fourth consecutive game this afternoon thanks to clutch hitting from Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. Trailing the White Sox 5-3 going into the ninth, the Royals were 18% to win according to FanGraphs win expectancy. It fell as low as 9% when Alcides Escobar flied out to center with runners on first and second for the second out. Butler, though, doubled to right-center, plating his team’s fourth and fifth runs to tie the game.
After Royals reliever Greg Holland retired the White Sox in short order in the top of the tenth, the offense went back to work. With two outs and Lorenzo Cain on second base, right-hander Brian Omogrosso intentionally walked the left-handed Chris Getz to bring up George Kottaras. Omogrosso couldn’t find his control as he unintentionally walked Kottaras on five pitches to bring up Alex Gordon. Gordon swung at Omogrosso’s first pitch, a 91 MPH fastball, and drove it deep to right field out of the reach of Alex Rios, plating Cain for the walk-off victory.
The win expectancy chart from FanGraphs is fun to look at:
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.