Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that the Nationals have granted Micah Owings his release after he opted out of his minor league contract with the club.
After posting a 4.86 ERA over six seasons between the Diamondbacks, Reds, and Padres, Owings made the switch from pitcher to full-time position player this season. The 30-year-old was batting .265/.305/.480 with eight home runs, 31 RBI and a 71/10 K/BB ratio over 213 plate appearances with the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate. He made 30 starts in left field, two in right field and 21 out of the designated hitter spot.
Owings was already considered a good hitting pitcher and the pop he has displayed in the minors is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but that plate discipline isn’t pretty. While it sounds like he could have a lead on a promising situation elsewhere, one wonders if he would be more interesting to a major league club if he still pitched a little.
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.