The Mariners are scouting the Yankees: Cliff Lee trade, anyone?

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Thumbnail image for Cliff Lee M's throwing.jpgGeorge A. King of the New York Post reports that the Mariners are kinda sorta thinking about trading Cliff Lee to the Yankees.  The “kinda sorta” is because there’s no sense that the Yankees are at all interested in Lee. According to King, however, the Mariners are currently scouting the Yankees organization and are interested in shortstop Eduardo Nunez and either prospect catcher Austin Romine or Jesus Montero, no doubt on the assumption that the Yankees will get interested once the M’s start dangling Lee.

Makes sense for the Mariners to at least be prepared in the event the Yankees realize that they can get one of the best pitchers in baseball to help them fight the Rays for the division and, assuming a long-term deal gets done, help anchor the rotation for the next several years.

Given his reasonable price tag, of course, there may be a lot of teams interested in renting Lee for the playoff stretch. The M’s would be wise, however, to try and find a partner who could negotiate with Lee on a long term deal, thus bringing back some real value in exchange for their failed experiment at contending.

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.