UPDATE: Yankees downplay the Rafael Soriano thing. Not that it doesn’t make sense.

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UPDATE: Not so fast on the Soriano stuff.  Mark Feinsand just spoke to a Yankees official and he downplayed the idea, saying “the price is going to be too high.”  And it will be too high, objectively speaking, for a setup man.  But it’s not like the Yankees (a) couldn’t use the help in the pen; and (b) could’t afford it.  And as some of you mentioned in the comments section, filling out the pen could help shake Joba Chamberlain free for a trade.  I mean, sure, the Yankees don’t see him as a starter anymore, but someone might, and he could form the basis of a package that could get a useful starting pitcher in return.

3:59 PM: The arms race is getting out of control. The Red Sox get Jenks?  Fine. The Yankees want Rafael Soriano. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News:

According to a source with knowledge of the Yankees’ thinking, the Bombers are “exploring” the option of signing Soriano, the All-Star closer who pitched last year for the Rays. With plenty of money to spare in the wake of Cliff Lee’s return to Philadelphia, the Yankees have held preliminary discussions with Scott Boras about Soriano, the source said.

Soriano used to be the best setup guy in baseball. In New York he’d have that role again. And, if it was a three-year deal, he could be Mariano Rivera’s heir.

In other news, if the Yankees did get Soriano — and if the Red Sox don’t find a sucker to take Papelbon — they and the Sox would have four of the top eight closers — at least in terms of saves — from the 2010 season on their rosters.  Which is cool with me because (a) who cares about saves; and (b) both the Jenks and Soriano signings would address legitimate needs for each team, but you figure a lot of people will freak out about this.

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.