The Royals just announced that they have acquired outfielder/designated hitter Josh Willingham from the Twins in exchange for prospect right-hander Jason Adam.
Willingham, 35, is batting just .210/.345/.402 with 12 home runs and 34 RBI over 68 games this season. However, he still offers power and patience from the right side of the plate and could be useful in a part-time role down the stretch. An incremental upgrade could make a difference for the Royals, who will begin play tonight just a half-game behind the Tigers for first place in the American League Central. Willingham is owed a little under $2 million for the remainder of this season, after which he will become a free agent.
Adam, 23, has a 4.67 ERA and 89/30 K/BB ratio over 98 1/3 innings this season between Double- and Triple-A. He pitched exclusively as a starter over his first three seasons in pro ball, but he has made nine relief appearances this season, including eight since his promotion to Triple-A. Baseball America ranked him as the Royals’ No. 9 prospect over the winter.
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.