The Cubs are entering the Pujols-Fielder sweepstakes

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There was some question as to whether they’d get involved in big free agent game hunting, but according to Ken Rosenthal they are: the Cubs are pursuing both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. Well, either/or. They wouldn’t sign both of them because that would be silly.

I think the why of it is more interesting than the mere fact of it: Rosenthal says the Cubs are worried that the changes to the draft in the new collective bargaining agreement — caps on bonuses and heavy penalties for exceeding them — are going to make it harder to build through the draft. That, combined with the fact that teams lock up elite sluggers way earlier now than they used to means that such beasts will be hard to come by going forward.

Such a thing makes sure things more desirable and, while there is a question as to the appropriate length of a Pujols or Fielder deal, there is little question that for the next few years, each will continue to be an elite slugger.

As for the Cubs, Rosenthal says that, despite the age difference, they’re somewhat more interested in Pujols because of his defense and conditioning and whatnot.  Whether they actually step up to join the Cardinals and Marlins in bidding on El Hombre is an open question, however.

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.