After missing six weeks with a sprained left ankle, Brett Lawrie was activated from the disabled list today by the Blue Jays. Derek Wetmore of MLB.com reports that he will play second base in his return this afternoon against the Orioles, confirming what was hinted by Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on Thursday.
Lawrie batted .250 (8-for-32) with one home run and a 10/7 K/BB ratio over 10 minor league rehab games. The 23-year-old started at second base in each of his final three games with Triple-A Buffalo. While he has exclusively played third base in the majors, he began his professional career at second base with the Brewers.
Lawrie hasn’t played regularly at second base since back in 2010, so he’s no lock to stick at the position, but the Blue Jays are ready to see if he can form a dynamic double-play combo with shortstop Jose Reyes. Maicer Izturis figures to get most of the starts at third base while Mark DeRosa and Edwin Encarnacion could also see occasional playing time there. Jose Bautista has made two starts at third base this season, but Gibbons told John Lott of the National Post that they have no plans to move him from right field.
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.