Pirates send former top prospect Pedro Alvarez to Triple-A

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Pedro Alvarez has recovered from the quad injury that placed him on the disabled list back on May 21, but rather than bring him back as their third baseman, the Pirates chose to option him to Triple-A on Saturday.

Alvarez, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, hit just .208/.283/.304 with two homers and 10 RBI in 125 at-bats before getting hurt.  He had hit .235/.386/.382 with one homer in 12 games on his rehab assignment.

“Pedro remains a big part of our future,” GM Neal Huntington said in an email, “But we believe making this move is the best way to get him back on track offensively and defensively so he can help us win games at the major league level.”

In the meantime, the Pirates are left with Josh Harrison getting most of the starts at third base.  Chase d’Arnaud is needed at shortstop with Ronny Cedeno out, and Brandon Wood will serve as a backup at both positions.

All in all, Pirates third basemen have hit .230/.287/.331 with six homers and 35 RBI this season.  Alvarez’s OPS at third is .596, Harrison’s is .672 and Wood’s is .592.

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.