Tino Martinez

Tino Martinez is getting a plaque in Monument Park for some reason

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When I think monumental, I totally think Tino Martinez. Don’t you?

Torre is obvious. Bernie I get too. I mean, he’s no National Baseball Hall of Famer in my mind, but he has a non-ridiculous argument and he is certainly well-qualified for a team-specific Hall of Fame. He was really the face of the Yankees’ return to dominance back in the 90s, even if Jeter later came to define that dynasty. I’ll even make allowances for Paul O’Neill. I think that stretches things a bit, but fans loved that constantly-annoyed man an awful lot, so good for him and them.

Tino, though, I really don’t get. He was never the best player on any of those teams — his best year was the non-World Series year of 1997, but even then Bernie was better — and he was cast over the side when Jason Giambi became available. Our own Matthew Pouliot notes that Martinez is 52nd all-time among Yankees position players in Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR. To make up for that you gotta be a pretty big fan favorite, I think. And unless I’ve missed something, Martinez doesn’t tend to pump up Yankees fans. Indeed, the most love I recall him receiving was retro-love once Giambi sorta went bust in New York and some people wished Tino was back.

Monument Park is the Yankees’ own Hall of Fame and they can put anyone they want in it. But if you’re gonna put Tino Martinez in it, forgive the rest of us if we don’t speak about it in the hushed tones Yankees people do. It was one thing when it was Mantle, DiMaggio and all of those other guys, but Tino Martinez makes it a somewhat less-than-elite club, does it not?

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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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.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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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.