Royals decline options on Crisp, Olivo, Yabuta

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Kansas City jumped into the option-related fun being had across baseball today by declining 2010 options on Coco Crisp, Miguel Olivo, and Yasuhiko Yabuta.
Acquired from the Red Sox for reliever Ramon Ramirez last winter, Crisp hit just .228/.336/.378 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in late June.
He’s not a sure thing to be fully healthy by spring training and either way choosing a $500,000 buyout over an $8 million option was an easy call. Ramirez, incidentally, went 7-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 69.2 innings for the Red Sox while making less than Crisp earned from the buyout.
Parting ways with Olivo is a more interesting decision. He batted .255/.278/.444 in 84 games last year, at which point the Royals re-signed him for $2.7 million. Now after hitting .249/.292/.490 in 114 games this season–a 60-point OPS jump in significantly more playing time–the Royals have opted against bringing him back for $3.3 million.
If he was worth $2.7 million then he’s certainly worth $3.3 million now, but perhaps the Royals finally (and smartly) got tired of watching him making an out 75 percent of the time.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.