Ryan Howard sat out Sunday’s game with a sore left knee and the Phillies first baseman is getting an MRI exam today.
Howard told Stephen Pianovich of MLB.com that the knee “has been acting up a little bit since spring training” but “yesterday was when it really kind of kicked in more than normal.”
Howard has been in the starting lineup for 39 of the Phillies’ first 44 games, but he’s hitting just .242 with a career-worst .713 OPS and terrible 46/9 K/BB ratio. And dating back to last season Howard has a .229 batting average and .716 OPS in his last 112 games after previously never posting a sub-.835 OPS in a season.
At age 33 he’s showing major signs of decline, but Howard is making $20 million this season and the Phillies still owe him another $85 million for 2014-2016.
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.