As expected the draft pick compensation attached to signing Nelson Cruz has significantly hurt the free agent outfielder’s market, leaving him unsigned with weeks before spring training begins.
In speaking at the Mariners’ fan fest event general manager Jack Zduriencik was very open about the team’s interest in Cruz, but also laid out exactly why his price tag is effected by the draft pick:
I’ve had a lot of discussions with Adam Katz, his agent. There’s an economic factor tied to that, as well as losing your draft pick. Would I like to have him here? Absolutely. I’d love to have Nelson Cruz in this lineup. But how much do you have to pay him, how many years is it going to be and are you willing to lose another draft pick? Those are the things you have to factor.
Seattle has already lost its second-round pick for signing Robinson Cano, so in theory the Mariners would be giving up less–a third-round pick–to sign Cruz than most teams. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that the Orioles are also interested in Cruz, but adds that he may end up trying to re-sign with the Rangers on a one-year deal.
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.