J.A. Happ

J.A. Happ progressing slowly due to knee issue

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J.A. Happ was hit on the head with a Desmond Jennings line drive on May 7, suffering a minor skull fracture. While falling to the ground, Happ twisted his knee, and it is the latter injury that is causing him to progress slowly as the lefty has yet to pitch off a mound. Manager John Gibbons said, “Somebody’s looking at it all the time but no more X-rays. It’s just one of those things that’s just going to take time. He’ll be a while.”

Happ was one of the Jays’ more reliable starters, bringing a 3.98 ERA into that fateful start against the Rays. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm says a timetable for the lefty’s return is still unclear, but does offer this:

General manager Alex Anthopoulos was recently quoted as saying he expected Happ to be out anywhere from three to six weeks.

The three weeks would seem highly unlikely as the native of Illinois has yet to throw off a mound, and six weeks would have Happ back in action toward the end of June.

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.