Damon, Yankees still a match

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As we covered yesterday, there are more outfielders available than jobs open at the moment. The odds of anyone stepping up and offering Johnny Damon the two-year, $20 million+ deal he expected at the beginning of the offseason fall somewhere in between slim and none. Cincinnati is the one team that has an obvious need for him in left field and at the top of the order, but there’s nothing to suggest that the Reds will bid. The Braves and Giants have alternatives and are short of cash. If there’s going to be a race for Damon’s services at any point over the next month, it seems likely to come down to the Yankees and Tigers.
The Tigers, though, have plenty of options. Carlos Guillen and Ryan Raburn are both available to play left field, so while Detroit wants a bat, a pure DH might work out just fine. Jim Thome could put about as many runs on the board as Damon and would come quite a bit cheaper.
On the other hand, the Yankees are pretty much down to one option if they want to further improve their team before Opening Day. They don’t need Damon — they’d surely score tons of runs without him — but he was a key piece in the 2009 World Series victory and it’s hard to believe that the team doesn’t have $6 million-$7 million laying around to throw at him. Damon is surely worth that much more than a possible Brett Gardner-Jamie Hoffman platoon, even if he would be a downgrade defensively.
It probably won’t happen this week or even before the end of the month, but Damon back to the Bronx is still the most likely scenario out there. Nothing else is even close.

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.