Terry Francona to replace Bobby Valentine on Sunday Night Baseball

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Three cheers for awkward trades. ESPN just announced during the Monday Night Football halftime show that Terry Francona will indeed replace Bobby Valentine in the broadcast booth for Sunday Night Baseball alongside Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser. He’ll also make appearances on Baseball Tonight, starting later this evening.

Francona was fired as Red Sox manager following the season and received positive reviews when he subbed for Tim McCarver during FOX’s coverage of the ALCS. He met with FOX after failing to land another managing gig this winter, but was reportedly in talks with ESPN as recently as a few days ago.

While I’m looking forward to seeing Francona in the broadcast booth on a regular basis next season, his tenure there doesn’t figure to be a long one. He’ll likely be mentioned for every prominent managerial opening next offseason.

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.