Yankees hit with $18.9 million luxury tax bill

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According to the Associated Press, the Yankees will pay a luxury tax to MLB for the 10th consecutive year.

The Yankees finished with a $222.5 million payroll for the purposes of the tax, well above the $178 million threshold. They were charged at 42.5 percent of the overage, so they’ll owe $18.9 million to MLB. No other team will pay a luxury tax for their 2012 payroll.

This year’s fee is up from the $13.9 million tax paid by the Yankees last year. The club has racked up a luxury tax bill of $224.2 million over the past decade, but the streak may not continue for much longer. The Yankees are currently trying to get their payroll under the new $189 million luxury tax threshold beginning in 2014, which is a big reason why general manager Brian Cashman has tried to hand out one-year deals this offseason. Ichiro Suzuki’s new two-year, $13 million deal is an exception, though they only went there because he received multi-year offers elsewhere.

The Red Sox paid the luxury tax in 2010 and 2011, but they fell just $47,177 short of the threshold this year. August’s mega-trade with the Dodgers gave them just enough breathing room.

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.