According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians and right-hander Justin Masterson have put extension talks on hold and are now focusing on a one-year deal in advance of an arbitration hearing on February 20.
Masterson, who is due to hit free agency next offseason, requested $11.8 million and was offered $8.05 million by the Indians when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this month. Both sides have said that they are open to a multi-year deal, but Hoynes hears that “little, if any” progress has been made. Putting aside the issue of an extension, the $3.75 million gap between Masterson and the Indians is the largest among any unsigned player who filed for arbitration, so they’ll have to make a lot of progress to even avoid a hearing.
Masterson posted a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio over 193 innings last season. He turns 29 in March, so another solid year would put him in position for a lucrative contract next winter.
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.