Cardinals sign infielder Alex Cora to minor-league contract

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Alex Cora’s deal with the Cardinals is official, with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reporting that the veteran utility infielder agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Last week Cora announced his retirement from winter ball in Puerto Rico and Goold notes that he was thinking about going into coaching, but instead he’ll try to earn a spot on the Cardinals’ bench at age 37.

Cora has had a remarkable career, sticking around for 14 seasons despite getting more than 400 plate appearances just three times and topping a .700 OPS just three times. And none of those have come since 2004.

He hit .224 with a .562 OPS in 91 games for the Nationals last season, which was actually better than he hit in 2010 for the Mets and Rangers. His primary competition for a bench gig may be Tyler Greene, depending on if Daniel Descalso or Skip Schumaker starts at second base.

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.