The NL Central continues to provide drama as September rages on, with the Cardinals and Pirates waging battle for first place in the division this weekend. Adam Wainwright brought his A-game with his team entering the night 0.5 games out of first place, as he shut the Pirates out over seven innings of work. He allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out eight, lowering his ERA to 3.03 in the process.
The Cardinal offense got to Pirates starter Jeff Locke in the fourth, scoring twice on a David Freese sacrifice fly and a Pete Kozma RBI single. They would tack on a run in each of the fifth, sixth, and eighth innings as well, more than enough support for their ace. Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, and Randy Choate teamed up for the final six outs of the game to lock up the 5-0 victory, pushing the Cardinals 0.5 games ahead of the Pirates at the top of the NL Central.
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.