Juan Cruz signs minor league contract with Phillies

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Juan Cruz has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Phillies, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Last offseason Cruz signed with the Pirates on a minor-league contract and was released in August despite posting a 2.78 ERA in 36 innings at age 33. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was much less impressive at 33-to-19, but he’s had an ERA below 4.00 in five of the past six seasons and could be a useful middle reliever in Philadelphia.

Cruz’s deal includes an invitation to spring training. Last year he refused to pitch in the minors, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens if he doesn’t win an Opening Day gig.

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.