When Koji Uehara signed with the Red Sox as a free agent last winter, it was reported simply as a one-year, $4.25 million contract. However, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo has learned that the deal also included a $4.25 million option that will vest with his next appearance, his 55th of the season.
WEEI’s Alex Speier adds that incentives will make the option worth $5 million if he reaches 35 games finished this year (he’s at 23 right now and should get to 35 as long as he remains in the closer’s role).
Either way, the 38-year-old Uehara is a bargain. This year, he has a 1.35 ERA and a 74/9 K/BB ratio in 53 1/3 innings. He’s had arm problems from time to time since coming to the majors in 2009, but in 199 career relief appearances, he’s amassed a 2.09 ERA and struck out more than 10 batters for every unintentional walk he’s issued. Despite his age and durability concerns, he was seemingly setting himself up for a deal in the two-year, $12 million range. That the Red Sox will already have him locked up will make their winter a little easier.
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.