Rockies acquire Marco Scutaro from Red Sox for Clayton Mortensen

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UPDATE: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports that the deal is done. The Red Sox are sending Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for right-hander Clayton Mortensen. Colorado will be responsible for Scutaro’s entire $6 million salary this season.

Mortensen, a 2007 supplemental first-round pick of the Cardinals, posted a 3.86 ERA and 30/24 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings at the major league level last season. The 26-year-old sinkerballer had a ground ball rate of 52.7 percent, so he could have some value out of Boston’s bullpen, but this was a pure salary dump.

6:06 PM: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe and Alex Speier of WEEI.com are both hearing that a deal is “likely” to get done. These guys might have the same source.

Anyway, while moving Scutaro could free up salary to sign Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson, Speier mentions that the Red Sox could also consider a trade with the White Sox for right-hander Gavin Floyd. Floyd, who turns 29 later this month, is owed $7 million this season and his contract includes a $9.5 million option for 2013.

5:56 PM: The Rockies’ efforts to acquire Marco Sctuaro from the Red Sox hit a snag yesterday, but Troy Renck of the Denver Post now hears that the two sides are “finishing up” a trade.

The Red Sox are expected to receive a pitcher in return and Renck names right-hander Clayton Mortensen as a possibility. It’s hard to believe they wouldn’t get more in return, even if the Rockies are picking up most or all of Scutaro’s $6 million salary for 2012. It will be interesting to see if the Red Sox also try to get Jonathan Herrera, who could be thrown into the mix at shortstop with the likes of Mike Aviles, Nick Punto and possibly Jose Iglesias.

Scutaro would immediately slot in as the starting second baseman for the Rockies. The 36-year-old batted .299/.358/.423 with seven homers, 54 RBI and a .781 OPS over 113 games in 2011. He would be a marked improvement from a group that combined to bat just .256/.304/.351 with a .655 OPS last season.

As for the Red Sox, it appears they are motivated to move Sctuaro in order to clear some salary to sign a starting pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson.

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.