Aroldis Chapman threw live batting practice today for the third time in the past week and reported no problems, so it looks like the Reds left-hander is ready for a minor-league rehab assignment as he comes back from facial fractures following a line drive to the face on March 19.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that Chapman threw 25 pitches, including sliders and changeups, and could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Thursday at Single-A.
Chapman indicated that he’ll probably need 4-5 rehab games before coming off the disabled list, which would put his potential return timetable somewhere around mid-May. At the time of the injury initial estimates suggested he’d be out for 6-8 weeks, so Chapman is right on track and perhaps a bit ahead of schedule.
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.