Ryan Zimmerman and Nationals still talking contract extension

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Throughout last season there were various reports about Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals having contract extension discussions and Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the two sides are still talking about a long-term deal.

Zimmerman has two years and $26 million remaining on his current five-year, $45 million contract, so there’s no huge rush for the Nationals to get something done, but they just gave Gio Gonzalez a five-year, $42 million extension despite already having him under control through 2015 and Zimmerman has repeatedly said he wants to play his entire career in Washington.

Of course, Zimmerman also missed 61 games last season with an abdominal tear and hit a good but not great .289 with a .798 OPS when healthy enough to play. When healthy Zimmerman is an excellent all-around player and one of the top handful of third basemen in baseball at age 27, so it would presumably take a deal in excess of $100 million to keep him around past 2013. And knowing agents, he’ll probably ask for more than the $126 million Jayson Werth got from the Nationals last winter.

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.