Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays

Colby Rasmus quietly having a great year

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Having read the title, I can no longer do the following exercise correctly, but I’ll do it anyway:

Player A: .295 AVG/.324 OBP/.508 SLG (was in the AL All-Star starting lineup)

Player B: .272 AVG/.336 OBP/.490 SLG

Player A is Adam Jones, universally hailed as one of the best outfielders in the game. Player B is Colby Rasmus, universally panned as an under-performer with a poor mental game. Rasmus was the hero for his Blue Jays this afternoon, driving a ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the ninth, driving in Emilio Bonifacio for the walk-off win.

By weighted on-base average, a more specific measure of offense, Rasmus is in a dead heat with Jones at .358, above the .321 AL average for center fielders. Behind Mike Trout, the two are the best in the league at their position, offensively speaking.

Factoring in defense, base running, and playing time, Rasmus grades as the league’s second-best overall center fielder behind Trout going by Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs. Rasmus turns 27 on August 11 and will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after the season. He can become a free agent after the 2014 season. At the time the Jays agreed to give him $4.675 million to avoid arbitration in January, it was hard to imagine them wanting to offer Rasmus a contract extension, but it is a very real possibility now after the great season he has had thus far.

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.