Rich Harden’s deal with Twins includes opt-out clause

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Often when a player making a comeback signs a minor-league contract with a team it includes an opt-out clause that allows him to become a free agent again if not added to the MLB roster within a month or so.

Rich Harden’s minor-league deal with the Twins includes an opt-out clause, but Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the date is July 31. That means the Twins could decide Harden isn’t ready for the big leagues coming out of spring training after missing all of 2012 following shoulder surgery and stash him at Triple-A for more than half the season.

I already wrote a lot about the Harden signing, so I won’t rehash everything here, but the July 31 opt-out clause is even more reason to think the Twins did well taking a no-risk flier on the oft-injured right-hander.

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.