Mark Kotsay close to one-year contract with Padres

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Mark Kotsay had the best years of his career with the Padres from 2001-2003 and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the veteran outfielder is returning to San Diego on a one-year deal worth around $1.25 million.

At age 35 he’s no longer capable of playing center field regularly and Kotsay’s bat isn’t starting-caliber in a corner spot, but he’s still productive enough to be a decent bench option after hitting .270 with a .703 OPS in 255 plate appearances for the Brewers.

He made 27 starts in right field, 13 starts in left field, nine starts in center field, and one start at first base for Milwaukee, but hasn’t cracked a .750 OPS since 2004. Kotsay hit .283 with a .782 OPS during his first stint in San Diego, which began when he was 25.

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.