Twelve rookies have drawn attention as potential impact players in 2017, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in his latest notes column. Several baseball people give their input on the players, ranging from Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi to “rookie” (though a longtime veteran of Cuban baseball) Astros first baseman Yulieski Gurriel. Here’s some hot stove news from Cafardo…
- The Royals have interest in veteran right-hander Doug Fister. Kansas City is known to be looking for rotation help since the tragic death of Yordano Ventura. Fister (who celebrates his 33rd birthday today) posted a 4.64 ERA, 5.74 K/9 and 1.85 K/BB rate in 180 1/3 innings with the Astros last season. The Padres, Marlins, Pirates and Mariners have all been linked to Fister at various times this winter, though several of those clubs have made other additions to their rotation and may no longer have interest.
- The Royals have several notable players hitting free agency next winter, and “the feeling is the Royals will re-sign at least one of their key hitters, likely Eric Hosmer,” Cafardo writes. Hosmer is a somewhat surprising name to potentially be staying put given that he is represented by Scott Boras, who would usually put a price tag on his client that would be out of reach for the mid-market Royals. Then again, Cafardo also notes that while Kansas City has the pieces to be a contender this season, “if they’re out of the hunt at the trade deadline…look for a major fire sale.” To tie those two items together, the Royals could free up money to re-sign Hosmer if they dealt some other pricey contracts. (One would think Hosmer would also want to be assured that the Royals’ deadline deals were made with an eye towards reloading for 2018 or 2019.) K.C. already locked up one long-term piece by signing Danny Duffy to a five-year extension last month.
- Jason Hammel would also be a fit in Kansas City but Fister would seem to have a much lower price tag at this point, as “Hammel believes he should receive at least a three-year deal.” Given the lack of clarity in Hammel’s market this winter, it would be quite surprising to see a team make that long a commitment to the right-hander, who is entering his age-34 season.
- The Mariners were linked to Hammel earlier this winter, and Cafardo reports that Seattle offered Hammel a one-year deal with a $10MM option for 2018. This offer came “very early” in the free agency process and no longer appears to be on the table. The M’s have since acquired Yovani Gallardo and Drew Smyly, so they no longer seem like candidates for Hammel’s services.
- Shane Victorino recently underwent minor surgery to remove a cyst under his arm, which has put the veteran outfielder’s plans to pursue a comeback attempt via a minor league contract “on hold.” Cafardo reported three weeks ago that a team had offered Victorino a contract but he hadn’t yet informed his agent whether or not to accept.