Brandon Phillips on free agency: “no homeboy hookup”

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Reds GM Walt Jocketty announced Wednesday morning that he plans to exercise Brandon Phillips’ $12 million club option for the 2012 season. But what happens after that? Will the All-Star second baseman be allowed to hit the free agent market?

Our guess, based off Phillips’ comments Wednesday afternoon to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, is yes.

“This is my last contract,” Phillips said. “There is no homeboy hookup. I just want to be paid what I am worth.”

Phillips is one of the best defensive second basemen in the major leagues and has posted a .294/.346/.452 batting line with 18 home runs and 81 RBI in 144 games this season, so “what I am worth” is likely to be a hefty sum. The Reds are far from broke, but their payroll typically ranks in the bottom half among baseball’s 30 franchises. If Phillips is not going to be giving the small-market club a hometown (er, “homeboy”) discount, there’s a good chance Cincinnati will be outbid.

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.