UPDATE: Done deal. Laird gets $1 million guaranteed, plus $300,000 in incentives.
Matthew Leach of MLB.com hasn’t been able to confirm the news yet, but Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Cardinals are close to signing veteran catcher Gerald Laird.
Laird is coming off a career-worst season in Detroit, hitting just .207 with a .567 OPS, but it’s still surprising that he wasn’t able to land somewhere that could offer more playing time.
With the Cardinals he’ll serve as Yadier Molina’s backup, which tends to be a pretty easy gig. Molina has started 136 and 130 games behind the plate in the past two seasons and has averaged 118 starts in six full seasons in St. Louis. That leaves Laird playing once or maybe twice per week, which will be a big change for a 31-year-old who’s averaged 100 starts in the past four seasons.
Laird would be replacing Jason LaRue, whose career was ended by a concussion suffered from a Johnny Cueto kick to the head.
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.
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.