Giants claim Padres closer Heath Bell off revocable waivers

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Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that the Giants claimed Heath Bell off waivers, meaning they’re now the only team eligible to trade for the Padres closer.

Brian Wilson’s elbow problems may have played a factor in the Giants’ decision to claim Bell, although because the Padres obviously weren’t going to simply give him away for nothing there’s zero risk involved. And if they can’t agree to a deal, then at least they blocked Bell from going to other NL teams.

San Diego’s decision whether or not to trade Bell is a tricky one, because he’d fetch compensatory draft picks as a departing free agent, but there’s a shot he might simply accept the Padres’ arbitration offer and still a chance the two sides could agree to a multi-year deal. Whatever the case, it seems unlikely that the Padres would trade him to the Giants without getting at least one very good prospect in return.

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.