Phillies could trade Cliff Lee if they falter

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Ken Rosenthal suggests, in his Full Count video posted today, that the Phillies could trade lefty starter Cliff Lee if they’re not in the playoff hunt near the July 31 trade deadline. The Phillies placed Lee on waivers last year and he was claimed by the Dodgers, but nothing ever became of it. It’s standard practice for teams to put players, even those of Lee’s caliber, on waivers, so not too much should be read into it, but the Phillies could even choose to move Lee after the deadline in August.

Lee shouldn’t be the only player the Phillies trade if they’re out of the race, though. The Phillies owe nearly $105 million to six players in 2014 and have one of baseball’s more barren Minor League systems. Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Michael Young, and Carlos Ruiz can all become free agents after the season, and the Phillies should consider trading all of them by the deadline if their playoff aspirations have evaporated.

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.