Yankees, Rangers join the Dodgers in the Ryan Dempster hunt

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UPDATE: Jayson Stark reports that the Yankees are telling everyone they’re not involved in the Dempster stuff. Good things team officials have never lied about anything ever. Of course, it’s in the Cubs’ interest to make it seem like there are more teams interested in him than just the Dodgers. So, you know, trade deadline.

9:54 AM: For a week now it has seemed as though the Dodgers were the only game in town for the Cubs if they wanted to deal Ryan Dempster. Dave Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports, however, that there are three teams in play:

Baseball sources have confirmed to me that three teams are in play for Ryan Dempster and he will approve a deal to any of the three teams if the Cubs can agree on a suitable return in exchange for the veteran right-hander who is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have long been Dempster’s preferred destination will have to increase their offer as the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have stepped up their pursuit over the last 48 hours.

Further: a source tells Kaplan that, contrary to earlier reports, Dempster has not told the Cubs that he’d only accept trades to the Dodgers.  Rather, he would consider trades elsewhere but he wants time to consider them. That was the problem with the Braves deal, Kaplan is told.

Of course time is not on his side today. As this post goes live, there are six hours until the deadline.

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.