Phillies, Ben Francisco avoid arbitation with one-year deal

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The Phillies and outfielder Ben Francisco avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.175 million contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Francisco, who was acquired from the Indians along with Cliff Lee in July of 2009, was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 29-year-old outfielder earned $470,000 last season while batting .268/.327/.441 with six home runs, 28 RBI and eight stolen bases over 197 plate appearances.

The Phillies haven’t added a right-handed hitting outfielder this winter, so Francisco should be primed for more playing time in 2011, likely as part of a timeshare with top prospect Domonic Brown in right field.

With Francisco signed, Kyle Kendrick is the team’s only remaining arbitration-eligible player.

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.