Pirates acquire infielder Yamaico Navarro from Royals

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The Royals wanted to clear a 40-man roster spot in advance of Thursday’s Rule 5 draft and did so Wednesday night by trading infielder Yamaico Navarro to the Pirates for prospects Brooks Pounders and Diego Goris.

Navarro was the youngster the Royals picked up from the Red Sox for Mike Aviles over the summer. The 23-year-old has hit .206/.250/.265 in 102 major league at-bats, just 23 of which came with Kansas City. Stretched defensively at shortstop and offensively anywhere else, he projects as a decent utilityman but probably nothing more.

Pounders, a big right-hander drafted in the second round in 2009, finished with a 3.68 ERA and a 72/14 K/BB ratio in 66 innings for low Single-A West Virginia last season. Goris, a 2o-year-old infielder, has yet to play in the U.S. He hit .350/.387/.511 against younger competition in his fourth year in the Dominican Summer League.

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.