Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, currently serving a season-long suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs and his role in the Biogenesis scandal, is already preparing for a return to baseball next season. George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the slugger has been working out at the University of Miami and at UCLA in Los Angeles.
King adds that Rodriguez has hit off a tee, taken ground balls, and lifted weights. He has not yet faced live pitching.
Rodriguez, who turned 39 years old on July 27, is still owed $61 million between 2015-17, not including “milestone” incentives for reaching 660, 714, 755, 762, and 763 career home runs. He currently has 654, six shy of tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list.
In 181 plate appearances with the Yankees in the final two months of the 2013 season, Rodriguez compiled seven home runs and 19 RBI with a .244/.348/.423 slash line.
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.