Following a pretty good run with the Mets, Jonathon Niese was dealt to the Pirates last offseason, as New York had an abundance of good young arms. The lefty struggled in a big way in Pittsburgh, though, giving up 21 home runs and walking too many batters on his way to a 4.91 ERA before the Pirates decided to cut their losses and trade him back to the Mets right before the trade deadline. He dealt with a knee injury there and had many of the same problems -- giving up nine walks and four home runs in just 11 innings -- in his return to Queens. The down year resulted in the club declining his option, leaving Niese as a free agent heading into the offseason. Despite his 2016 results, the 30-year-old will still likely be given the chance to win a back-end rotation spot somewhere, though he may not have much of a margin for error if he continues to struggle.
Niese (knee) will compete for a spot in the Yankees bullpen during spring training, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports. Despite spending the vast majority of his career as a starter, the Yankees have multiple younger and higher-upside options for their rotation in 2017, which bumps Niese into a competition for a role as a long reliever. The left-hander got his first extended experience as a reliever last season, and given the relative inexperience of the others vying for a bullpen spot, the veteran has a decent chance to break camp with the major league squad.
Niese agreed to a minor league contract with the Yankees on Sunday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. As long as Niese passes a physical, he'll head to Yankees spring training in the near future. At this point in time, the club is entertaining the idea of using him as a starter or a reliever, but a more definitive plan should come about once he begins working out with the team.
Niece threw a 40-pitch bullpen session for teams on Wednesday, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports. The 30-year-old had his season cut short last year after he underwent arthroscopic surgery in August to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He threw for 13 teams on Wednesday to show them he's healthy and in good shape. In 121 innings last year with the Pirates and Mets, Niese posted a 5.50 ERA and 1.587 WHIP. Depending on where he lands, he could compete for a rotation spot.
Niese will hold a workout for interested teams in Florida on Wednesday, Ken Davidoff of The New York Post reports. The left-hander spent most of 2016 with Pittsburgh before he was traded back to the team that drafted him. In a rough end to the season, Niese compiled an 11.45 ERA over six games with New York before undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The Mets declined their 2017 option on him, but expect another team to take a chance on the 30-year-old.
The Mets opted to decline their option on Niese's contract for the 2017 season, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports. Niese's 2016 showing was one to forget as he threw for a 5.50 ERA and 1.59 WHIP, both of which were their highest mark since 2008. Depending on where he ends up, Niese could fill a spot at the back end of a rotation, but will likely be be used out of the bullpen, which was the case at the latter end of 2016.