Recently, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America reported that the Phillies turned in Oregon State senior Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for inappropriate contact with an agent, which is explicitly forbidden by NCAA bylaws. Most of the commentary since then have focused on the ethics of what the Phillies did and the unfairness of the power NCAA wields over its athletes. Comparatively little attention has been paid to Wetzler himself, who appears to have broken the rules.
Fitt is now reporting that the NCAA has suspended Wetzler for 20 percent of the season, which includes time he has already missed. He will return on March 3.
Oregon State University came out in defense of Wetzler, calling the punishment “too hard given all of the mitigating factors”. More, from Fitt:
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.