Report: Royals at ‘critical stage’ in Wil Myers trade talks

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I’m not sure what makes this the “critical stage” — perhaps it’s that the Royals are thinking about giving Ryan Dempster the three-year contract he wants  and taking themselves out of the starting pitching market — but FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Royals are nearing a decision on whether to trade top prospect Wil Myers for a starter.

The starters previously mentioned in connection with Myers are the Rays’ James Shields, the Mets’ R.A. Dickey and Boston’s Jon Lester, though the Lester possibility seems to have fizzled out.

The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton says he believes the Royals are just fine with trading Myers for Shields, but that the Rays want more in return. Likewise, the Mets are believed to want more than Myers for Dickey, while it doesn’t appear that the Royals are quite as interested in Dickey anyway.

Myers, who turns 22 next week, hit .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers and 109 RBI between Double- and Triple-A last season. It did come with 140 strikeouts in 522 at-bats, but right-handers with his kind of power don’t come around too often.

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.