Hiroyuki Nakajima returns to Japan after failing to sign with Yankees

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Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima failed to reach an agreement with the Yankees after they bid $2 million for his exclusive negotiating rights, so he’s returning to his old team in Japan.

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker notes that Nakajima has signed a one-year deal with the Seibu Lions worth around $3.6 million, adding that the shortstop “doesn’t look unhappy to be returning to the Lions and is expected to pursue an MLB deal as a free agent following the 2012 season.”

New York seemed almost surprised that their relatively low bid secured Nakajima’s negotiating rights and at no point were they said to be particularly motivated to get a contract worked out, viewing him as a utility man-caliber player who didn’t really have an obvious role on the roster.

They’ve been refunded the $2 million posting fee and next offseason Nakajima will try to follow in Hisashi Iwakuma’s footsteps by coming to the United States without having to go through the posting process.

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.