This is several days old but I had missed it until I saw Jeff Passan mention it in his latest column. The original report is from Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. It shockingly involves Jeff Loria being a petty jerk.
Recall that Tino Martinez resigned as the Marlins hitting coach last month following accusations by some players that he was verbally and physically abusive. Spencer reports that this sat poorly with Loria, who personally hired Martinez. Flash forward to last week when Placido Polanco went to the disabled list. The Marlins front office and coaching staff were unanimous in wanting the team to call up infielder Chris Valaika — who had been hitting like crazy in New Orleans — to to replace Polanco.
Except Valaika was one of the players who had complained about Martinez’s behavior. So, out of spite, Loria personally overruled his baseball people and ordered Gil Velazquez to be called up.
Passan’s column notes that it’s possible that Loria may force out team presidents David Samson and Larry Beinfest. Who, when they’re not being forced to be Loria’s lapdogs are actually pretty good at assembling baseball talent. His team, his prerogative.
But why anyone would choose to work for that guy and how anyone can root for that team while he still owns it is an utter mystery to me.
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.