UPDATE: Ryan-Greenberg group wins ownership of Rangers

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1:51 AM:  Just a quick update here.  As Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported just moments ago, the group led by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg won the auction.  They out-lasted several massive over-bids by Mark Cuban and stepped up with a $385 million cash offer early Thursday morning.  Great stuff by Andro and Co.

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4:05 PM:  Daniel Kaplan of SBJ reports that the review of the initial bids in the Texas Rangers auction is finally over (they’ve been in court all day) and get this: Mark Cuban and Jim Crane have “the highest and best bid” by $25 million.

Per some complicated legal business this morning, the Greenberg-Ryan group will now get some time — maybe some hours, maybe until tomorrow — to come back and top that bid. And they have to do it by $2 million to stay in the game.

That is, if they don’t make up their own rules. Minutes after the bidding was announced, Greenberg and Ryan’s lawyers (a) asked for more time; and (b) said that they’d attempt to block Cuban and Crane’s bid from being accepted via appeal and maybe some other legal action.  So that’s nice.  There’s also the distinct possibility — again, per Greenberg’s lawyer — that Major League Baseball may take up to nine months to approve Cuban and Crane as owners, which they argue would practically lower the real value of Cuban and Crane’s bid.

There will obviously be tons of twists and turns in the next few hours, let alone the next few weeks, so this doesn’t mean that Cuban and Crane will wind up owning the team.  But it does mean that for them not to it will mean that either Greenberg and Ryan will (a) have to come up with a ton more money; or (b) convince Major League Baseball and/or a court of law that the most valuable offer for the Texas Rangers should not actually get the team.

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.