Why are the Yankees scouting Cliff Lee?

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As the trading season gets increasingly nutsy, we’ve seen an explosion of “Team X had a scout at Player Y’s last game!” chatter.  Here’s a fine example of such a thing from Jon Paul Morosi yesterday:

The Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals were among the clubs with a scout in
attendance at Cliff Lee’s start in Detroit
on Sunday afternoon.

It marked the second straight start by Lee that the Yankees scouted.

Rival clubs believe the Yankees are pursuing Lee ahead of the July 31
non-waiver trade deadline, although it’s possible the Yankees are
scouting Lee in preparation for his upcoming free agency.

Yes, it could be that the Yankees, a team without any discernible need in the rotation, feel it necessary to scout one of the most-watched, most well-known pitchers in baseball.

It’s also possible, is it not, that the Yankees had a scout at the Mariners game because they play the freakin’ Mariners this weekend and will likely be facing Cliff Lee on Friday.

Scouts scout. It’s their job. Just because they show up someplace doesn’t mean they’re working in advance of a trade.

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.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.