Kansas City ranks dead last among AL teams in home runs, slugging percentage, OPS, and runs scored, and today the Royals fired hitting coach Pedro Grifol and replaced him with former Cubs manager Dale Sveum.
Grifol took over as hitting coach in July of last season after George Brett stepped down from the job and ends up lasting less than a year, which is nothing new for the Royals. Sveum is their sixth hitting coach since 2012 and shifts over to the new role from third base coach on manager Ned Yost’s staff.
For whatever it’s worth: Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that Grifol was technically reassigned rather than being fired.
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.