Pirates and Scott Olsen close to incentive-laden contract

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Pittsburgh is close to signing left-hander Scott Olsen to an incentive-laden one-year contract, according to both Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.

Langosch reports that the deal will be completed once Olsen passes a physical exam later this week, although given his history of shoulder problems that’s no sure thing.

Olsen was once a promising young starter for the Marlins, winning a dozen games with a 4.04 ERA as a 22-year-old rookie in 2006, but he’s gone 24-38 with a 5.17 ERA since then and had a 5.56 ERA for the Nationals this year.

He’s still just 26 years old, but Olsen’s average fastball has hovered in the high-80s for the past few seasons and he’s never had good control. Given his extreme righty-lefty splits Olsen might have some success transitioning to the bullpen, but every indication is that the Pirates view him as a full-time starter.

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.