Hisashi Iwakuma re-signs with Rakuten Golden Eagles

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The A’s won exclusive negotiating rights for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma earlier this winter, but they were unwilling to meet his lofty contract demands and the 29-year-old has now re-signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball.  This according to Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times.

Iwakuma turned in a quality 2.81 ERA over 201 innings in 2010 for the Golden Eagles, equally strong numbers in 2009, and he had a career year in 2008 when he posted a 21-4 record and 1.87 ERA to win the Pacific League MVP.

He should draw a ton of interest next offseason if he again tries to test the MLB free agent waters and he may find a club that is more willing to pay him big money.

Iwakuma was asking for a salary of $11-$12 million per season in his negotiations with the A’s.  Because of the pricey $19.1 million posting fee, Billy Beane and Co. were only willing to offer a four-year deal worth a total of $15.25 million.  That fee has since been returned.

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.