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Blue Jays said to be “leading candidates” for either Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez

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The great Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com shares this scoop:

The Blue Jays, quiet for much of the offseason, still figure to acquire one and possibly two starting pitchers once the logjam caused by [Masahiro] Tanaka starts to resolve.

The Jays are a leading candidate to sign either [Ervin] Santana or [Ubaldo] Jimenez; they have two protected first-round picks, Nos. 9 and 11, and would sacrifice only a second-rounder and the accompanying pool money for one of those free-agent right-handers.

Toronto had a 4.25 staff ERA in 2013, which ranked 25th in MLB. There has been very little talk of a run at Tanaka, who could get over $100 million guaranteed, but the Jays are poised to chase the next best thing once that chip falls into place.

Santana, 31, posted a 3.24 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 32 starts last year for the Royals, fanning 161 batters in 211 innings. Jimenez, 29, had a 3.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 194 strikeouts in 182 2/3 frames for Cleveland.

The Blue Jays’ three locked-in starters for 2014 are R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow.

J.A. Happ could win a spot and there’s still some shred of hope for 26-year-old righty Kyle Drabek.

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.