Josh Beckett beats out Paul Maholm for fifth spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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The Dodgers signed lefty Paul Maholm to a one-year, $1.5 million deal in February, but they have no room for him in the starting rotation. Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times reports that the Dodgers have awarded that spot to right-hander Josh Beckett.

Neither Maholm nor Beckett pitched much during the spring and neither had remarkable results as well. Beckett had thoracic outlet surgery and suffered a relatively minor thumb injury during the spring, but there was doubt as to his ability to be ready to come off of the disabled list at his first point of eligibility on April 4. Manager Don Mattingly thinks Beckett will be ready:

“We feel like Josh will be ready to pitch,” Mattingly said. “He’s held up pretty good. He threw five innings the other night.

“We would prefer for him to be built up a little further, but if he absolutely had to pitch, we think he’s going to be a guy that by the time he’s eligible, could help us.”

The Dodgers will use Maholm out of the bullpen, it seems. According to J.P. Hoornstra, the Dodgers have listed him as a bullpen option on the lineup sheet in the clubhouse. However, if Clayton Kershaw has to miss more time with his back issue — ESPN’s Buster Olney says that Kershaw’s injury is the same as Jurickson Profar’s, and Profar will miss 10-12 weeks — then Maholm could return to the rotation.

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.