The A’s sign Grant Balfour: Two years, $8.1 million

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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that the deal is for two years, $8.1 million, pending a physical.

10:58 AM: Did someone mention Rays free agents signing elsewhere?  Because we have another: Grant Balfour is close to signing a deal with the Oakland Athletics. That according to Jon Paul Morosi. It’s a multi-year deal. We have no details on the dollars yet, but we’ll update them as soon as they come in.

Balfour went 13-7 with a 2.98 ERA and 207 strikeouts in 181 innings over the past three years as the setup man in Tampa Bay.  There was talk earlier this winter of the Orioles being interested in him, but their deal with Kevin Gregg scuttled that.

Balfour is a type-A free agent, so that means that this is just the latest deal that gives the Rays draft picks.  Indeed, as Aaron is going to explain in a post later this morning,  in that regard this has been an outrageously profitable winter for the Rays.

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.