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.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.

Michael Bourn to miss four weeks with a broken finger

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 6:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles looks out of the dugout as he waits to get on deck to bat during the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 6, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.

The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.

Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.