Orioles claim Luis Exposito off waivers from Red Sox, designate Josh Bell for assignment

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Josh Bell, who twice cracked Baseball America‘s top 100 prospects list and was traded from the Dodgers to the Orioles for George Sherrill in mid-2009, has been designated for assignment.

Baltimore dropped Bell from the 40-man roster to make room for catcher Luis Exposito, whom they claimed off waivers from Boston. Exposito is a 26-year-old career minor leaguer with a .665 OPS at Triple-A, so he’s purely backup material.

All of which says a lot about how far Bell’s stock has fallen, which is what happens when you hit just .200 with three homers, a .485 OPS, and a horrendous 78-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 226 plate appearances as a big leaguer. Bell also hasn’t hit much at Triple-A, but he’s still young enough that another team might claim him off waivers.

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.