Atlanta left Dan Uggla off the postseason roster in favor of light-hitting utility man Elliot Johnson and now it sounds like the Braves may be close to benching Uggla again.
He’s hit just .190 with 30 strikeouts in 27 games, ruining any notion that eye surgery could fix his rapid decline, and Mark Bowman of MLB.com speculates that prospect Tommy La Stella “might soon be promoted” from Triple-A to replace Uggla at second base.
Uggla is still owed more than $20 million, but that money is a sunk cost at this point and it doesn’t help the Braves to keep trotting him out there solely to avoid eating the rest of the contract. Bowman notes that Uggla has hit .186 with a .657 OPS in 265 games dating back to mid-2012.
La Stella is hardly considered an elite prospect and he’s got a measly .333 slugging percentage at Triple-A as a 25-year-old, but he also has a .372 on-base percentage with more walks than strikeouts and has gotten on base at a fantastic .408 clip for his career. La Stella and Uggla are about as different as two hitters can be in terms of their approach and skill set, and it’d be tough to blame for Braves for wanting to try the other extreme after watching Uggla flail away for the past few seasons.
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.