After eight seasons in Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz is on the verge of free agency and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made it clear that the Phillies want to re-sign him, telling Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:
We’d like to bring him back. He knows we’d like to bring him back. We’ll see what happens. I’d like to have as much balance [in the lineup] as we can, we haven’t been very good against left-handers. It’s well documented.
New manager Ryne Sandberg also echoed those sentiments.
Ruiz missed the first 25 games of the season while serving a PED suspension and then struggled initially, but he’s been very good since August 1, hitting .299 with an .815 OPS in 42 games to approximate his 2010-2012 production of an .842 OPS. Age at 34 he seems unlikely to get any long-term offers on the open market, so Ruiz returning to Philadelphia on, say, a two-year could make sense for both sides.
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.