Astros sign left-hander Erik Bedard to minor league contract

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Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Astros have signed left-hander Erik Bedard to a minor league contract with a spring training invite.

Bedard, who turns 34 in March, posted a 5.01 ERA and 118/56 K/BB ratio over 125 2/3 innings last season with the Pirates. He actually pitched pretty well early on, compiling a 3.26 ERA over his first 12 starts, but he was knocked around to the tune of a 6.98 ERA over his next 12 before being given his release in late August.

Bedard isn’t a good bet to hold up physically, but there’s opportunity with the rebuilding Astros. A solid spring should earn him a rotation spot alongside Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell, Phil Humber and Jordan Lyles. And if all goes well, the Astros could eventually flip him for a prospect.

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.