Mike Scioscia, Albert Pujols

Mike Scioscia gets a vote of confidence from Albert Pujols

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Not many players have the stature to be giving out votes of confidence to the longest-tenured manager in baseball, but a future Hall of Famer with a $240 million contract is one of them.

With the Angels really struggling and speculation about Mike Scioscia’s job security starting to swirl Albert Pujols stuck up for his manager, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:

Sosh, he’s our head, and everybody goes to the head. He’s taking a lot of heat that he shouldn’t take. Us, the players–including myself–we’re not doing what we need to do. He writes the lineup, he makes decisions in the middle of the game, but at the end, he can’t pitch for us, he can’t play defense for us, he can’t hit for us. We need to take care of ourselves and do the things that we need to do to win.

All of which is reasonable, of course, but if in Pujols’ scenario a manager shouldn’t be blamed for players performing poorly then should a manager receive credit for players performing well? Obviously the answer is a resounding yes and in Scioscia’s case he has a pair of Manager of the Year awards to show for it.

Scioscia is signed through 2018, but the Angels haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 and currently only the Astros have a worse record among AL teams.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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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.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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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.