This morning the Red Sox traded infielder Jed Lowrie to the Astros in a deal for reliever Mark Melancon and it didn’t take them long to replace him, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting that Boston has signed Nick Punto to a two-year, $3.5 million contract.
Punto was paid just $750,000 by the Cardinals and making a two-year commitment to a 34-year-old utility man with a .652 career OPS seems excessive, but he hit well in 63 games for St. Louis this season and is a standout defender at second base, third base, and shortstop.
For years Punto was overmatched as a regular in Minnesota, but as a utility man he’s an excellent fit even if the Red Sox paid a premium for a role player. Hopefully the Fenway Park crowd likes head-first slides.
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.
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.