Tigers “have been in contact” with free agent Aramis Ramirez

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In addition to their reported interest in Mark Buehrle the Tigers “have been in contact with the agent for” Aramis Ramirez, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.

Beck writes that “there are no negotiations going on” and the two sides haven’t talked since early this month, but adds that Thanksgiving may have played a part in the recent lack of dialogue.

Brandon Inge is still under contract for $5.5 million in 2012 with a $6 million option or $500,000 buyout in 2013, but the Tigers have already shown that they’re willing to bench the 34-year-old third baseman and Ramirez would be a massive upgrade offensively.

He’d also be a massive downgrade defensively, but with Inge coming off a .197 batting average and Ramirez producing an OPS above .850 for the seventh time in eight seasons Detroit would probably be willing to sacrifice glove for bat. Ramirez is 33 years old, but adding him to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez would be a very scary middle of the order.

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.