Jake Elmore, Jimmy Paredes

Some of MLB’s worst teams had something to play for Sunday

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With the new collective bargaining agreement came a new incentive for teams to play poorly: locking up a protected first round draft pick. In the old CBA, the first 15 first-round picks were protected. In the new one, only ten are protected. If a team with a protected pick signs a free agent who received a qualifying offer, that team does not have to surrender its first round draft pick as compensation.

Teams with the ten worst records secured themselves a protected pick. Entering today’s action, the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Twins, Cubs, Mariners, and Phillies had already locked one up. The Rockies, Mets, Blue Jays, and Brewers entered Sunday’s contests playing for the remaining three spots. In the event of a tie, the team with the worse 2012 record gets preference.

With all of Sunday’s action finalized, here are your protected pick standings:

Team W L Win%
1 Houston Astros 51 111 .315
2 Miami Marlins 62 100 .383
3 Chicago White Sox 63 99 .389
4 Minnesota Twins 66 96 .407
5 Chicago Cubs 66 96 .407
6 Seattle Mariners 71 91 .438
7 Philadelphia Phillies 73 89 .451
8 Colorado Rockies 74 88 .457
9 Toronto Blue Jays 74 88 .457
10 New York Mets 74 88 .457
11 Milwaukee Brewers 74 88 .457

Last year, the Rockies had a .395 winning percentage, the Jays .451, the Mets .457, and the Brewers .512. Unfortunately for the Brewers, they finish on the outside looking in.

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.