Dodger signings: Mientkiewicz, Towers, Ayala

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While the Dodgers have yet to confirm the Jamey Carroll signing (his agent has, however), they did add several veterans on minor league deals announced Thursday, including first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, infielder Angel Berroa, RHP Josh Towers and RHP Luis Ayala.
It’s necessary depth for a team that’s bled prospects recently and can’t afford a bunch of additional veteran options right now.
Mientkiewicz’s return was a surprise. He said he came back last year to get the 10 years of service time he’d need to qualify for a full pension. He ended up spending 4 1/2 months on the disabled list with a dislocated shoulder, but he hit the 10-year mark anyway. It seems unlikely that the Dodgers will want to carry him again when they already have a left-handed-hitting first baseman in James Loney and another possible left-handed-hitting infield reserve in Blake DeWitt.
Berroa added a little life to his floundering career by hitting .230/.304/.310 in 226 at-bats with the Dodgers in 2008 before jumping to the Yankees last winter. The decision presumably will result in him being mailed a World Series ring in April, but he ended up with just 22 at-bats with the Bombers and 27 more with the Mets, and he finished up 7-for-49. He shouldn’t be a candidate to break camp with the Dodgers.
Towers also spent a portion of last season with the Yankees, making two relief appearances for the club. He spent the bulk of the year going 7-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 18 starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With no fastball to speak of and a tendency to give up long flyballs, Towers is strictly Triple-A depth for the Dodgers.
Ayala finished with a 5.71 ERA for the Nationals and Mets in 2008 and a 5.62 ERA for the Twins and Marlins last season. The 31-year-old was a pretty extreme groundball pitcher prior to blowing out his elbow in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but his sinker isn’t what it was and probably never will be again. The Dodgers should have better options for their last couple of bullpen spots.

Dodgers place Yu Darvish on 10-day disabled list with back tightness

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In a flurry of roster moves, the Dodgers placed Yu Darvish on the 10-day disabled list with back tightness, the team announced Saturday. Darvish was removed from his start on Wednesday after experiencing back pain and is expected to skip his scheduled start in Pittsburgh next Tuesday before returning to the roster. Left-hander Edward Paredes was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City in a corresponding move.

This is the first disabled list stint of the year for the 31-year-old right-hander, who exited Wednesday’s outing with a 3.83 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 over 155 innings for the Dodgers and Rangers in 2017. Darvish told reporters that he felt comfortable continuing to pitch even after the diagnosis, but wanted to respect the team’s decision going forward.

The Dodgers have not officially announced Darvish’s replacement, but will likely turn to right-hander Brock Stewart for a spot start when they polish off their seven-game road trip next week. It’s been a rough weekend for the NL West leaders, who are still waiting on Clayton Kershaw‘s return and lost lefty reliever Grant Dayton to elbow discomfort on Friday.

Yankees oust Aroldis Chapman from the closer’s role

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The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.

There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.

While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.

“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”