State taxes could play a factor in Cliff Lee choosing between Rangers and Yankees

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While speculation swirls about how much Cliff Lee enjoyed his time in Texas and how much his wife disliked her time in New York, an overlooked factor in his free agent decision-making could be state income taxes.

Darren Rovell of CNBC wrote a very interesting article examining the differences in taxes Lee would pay depending on his new home. Texas does not have a state income tax, but it does have something called a “Jock Tax” that would involve Lee paying approximately $2.25 million if he signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Rangers.

However, if Lee signed the same five-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees and moved to New York he’d pay between $11 million and $15 million in state income taxes depending on exactly where he lived.

In other words, assuming Lee can get in excess of $100 million from either team any offer the Rangers make will be worth about 10 percent more to him than any offer the Yankees make. Whether or not an “extra” $10 million would be enough to sway Lee one way or another is obviously unclear, but it does suggest that the Yankees will have to clearly top the Rangers’ offer to get him. Of course, we probably knew that already.

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.