Cardinals guarantee Penny $7.5 million in one-year deal

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Brad Penny’s one-year deal with the Cardinals is worth $7.5 million guaranteed and includes $1.5 million in incentives, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney and others.
Some will express surprise at the cash involved, given that Penny finished last season with a 4.88 ERA in 173 1/3 innings. I like the deal for the Cardinals, though. Penny has lost nothing off his fastball, and the game’s premier pitching coach, Dave Duncan, can help with everything else, as long as he doesn’t try to turn Penny into a sinkerballer.
Keeping Penny healthy has always been a challenge, but he’s almost always been an above average pitcher when he’s 100 percent. I see the Cardinals getting 14-15 wins out of him and then a draft pick or two when he leaves as a free agent next winter.

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.