Japan threatens boycott of World Baseball Classic

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Unsatisfied with its current share of World Baseball Classic revenues, two-time champion Japan is threatening to sit out the 2013 event, Reuters reports.

“We are not saying we don’t want to take part,” stated union president Takahiro Arai. “But we will not be able to compete under the current conditions, which are unfair.”

Japan won both the inaugural 2006 and the 2009 World Baseball Classics, but the players took home only 13 percent of the revenue generated from the last tournament.  MLB and its players received 66 percent of the revenue, so there’d clearly seem to be some room for negotiation here.

Japan’s club owners are also looking for a better deal with MLB.

The 2013 tournament is expected to expand from 16 teams to 28 teams, with new additions like Great Britain, France, Brazil and New Zealand.  There will be a play-in round in Fall 2012 in which 16 teams will compete for four spots.  The four winners will join the 12 automatic qualifiers — the U.S., Japan, the Dominican Republic and others — in a tournament set for March 2013.

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.