Joe Nathan expected to decline 2014 option, become free agent

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By reaching 55 games finished this season Joe Nathan got the ability to decline his 2014 option and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers expect the veteran closer to do exactly that.

Nathan would be turning down $9.5 million for 2014, but he’s looking for a multi-year deal and even at age 38 he’s been dominant enough to warrant it on the open market. Nathan saved 43 games with a 1.39 ERA and 73/22 K/BB ratio in 65 innings this season and posted a 2.09 ERA in 129 innings overall for the Rangers after coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery.

So will Texas make a multi-year bid to keep him? Sullivan doesn’t seem to think so, writing that “the Rangers are preparing to look at other options for their closer with Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz and possibly Tanner Scheppers as the prime options.”

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.