Joe Nathan had another bad day at work this afternoon, blowing his seventh save of the season when he allowed a run in the ninth inning in an eventual 10-inning, 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays. Nathan now has a a 5.36 ERA, even after going on a run of seven consecutive appearances without allowing a run.
James Schmehl of MLive.com reports that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is sticking with Nathan as the club’s closer. Joakim Soria would have been next in line for the job, but he left with an injury during today’s game and will be reevaluated tomorrow.
The Tigers, now 63-51, have seen their first-place lead in the AL Central slip from five games last Sunday to two games after today’s loss, and it can shrink further to 1.5 games if the Royals defeat starter Tim Hudson and the Giants tonight. The Tigers’ bullpen has proven to be their undoing frequently throughout the season and may wind up being the culprit if they lose their seat atop the division.
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.