Cuban first baseman Ruiz close to signing

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MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez has an update on Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz, who became a free agent after defecting and has reportedly drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Rangers, Red Sox, Giants, Rays, and Rockies.
Ruiz’s agent revealed that the 25-year-old could sign as soon as this week and has been offered major-league contracts by multiple teams, but is trying “to find a team where he’ll have the best opportunity to rise the quickest.”
Ruiz isn’t on the same level as fellow Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, who signed with the Reds last month for $25.5 million, but he’s expected to get several million dollars and should be fairly close to MLB-ready. Ruiz is 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, but runs fairly well and has played some left field in addition to first base. He’s consistently posted big batting averages in Cuba, but hasn’t shown a ton of power.

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.