As we enter the third month of the season, the herd has been thinned and we have a good idea which pitchers are for real and which were pretenders. With seven innings of shutout ball against the Giants this afternoon, Cardinals starter Shelby Miller continues to establish himself as one of baseball’s premier arms. The 22-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA to 1.82 and, with seven strikeouts and just one walk, continues to average better than a strikeout per inning pitched and four strikeouts for every walk.
Miller is closely followed by two other young arms vying for the honor of starting for the National League in this summer’s All-Star Game: Matt Harvey (1.85 ERA) and Patrick Corbin (1.71). Clayton Kershaw, as usual, is in the mix as well (1.85).
Miller has been just the latest in a parade of prospects to join the Cardinal rotation and enjoy success in recent years, joining Laynce Lynn, Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha, and Tyler Lyons. When it comes to developing pitching, few can match up with the Cardinals, led by GM John Mozeliak.
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.