Mariners top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker was scheduled to make one final rehab start on Tuesday at Triple-A Tacoma before joining the major league starting rotation. But that plan can now be torched.
MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports that Walker had to be scratched from his start at Tacoma on Tuesday night due to stiffness in his throwing shoulder — the same joint that landed him on the disabled list at the end of spring training. Johns says Walker simply “couldn’t get loose” before the outing. The talented 21-year-old will likely be flown to Seattle for tests.
Walker posted a promising 2.93 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, and 10.2 K/9 in 141 1/3 innings last season between Double-A and Triple-A, and he struck out 10 batters over five scoreless innings in a rehab outing last week.
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.