With spring training right around the corner Jason Varitek doesn’t have a job and agent Scott Boras said yesterday that the 40-year-old catcher “is deliberating what he wants to do.”
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe makes it clear that “there’s no room on the Red Sox roster for him” after they signed Kelly Shoppach to platoon with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and speculates that Varitek is pondering retirement after 14 seasons.
Ivan Rodriguez also remains unsigned, so Varitek may not even be a team’s main emergency target if a catcher gets hurt during spring training. Varitek hit .221 with a .300 on-base percentage and .423 slugging percentage in 68 games last season, which is actually right around average production for a catcher, but he also threw out just 14 percent of steal attempts as teams ran wild on him.
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.