Astros closer Chad Qualls claimed off revocable waivers

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FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Astros closer Chad Qualls has been claimed off revocable waivers by an unidentified team.

It’s unclear whether the Astros actually intend to deal Qualls, but Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow indicated last month that he would have to be overwhelmed. Either way, they have until Wednesday to make a decision. They can trade him to the claiming team, let him go to the claiming team for nothing (which is highly unlikely), or simply pull him back. Of course, if he’s pulled back, he’s ineligible to be traded for the rest of the season.

Qualls has quietly been very effective as Houston’s closer this season, posting a 3.07 ERA and 38/5 K/BB ratio over 44 innings while going 14-for-17 in save opportunities. The 36-year-old is owed $3 million next season and his contract includes a $3.5 million club option for 2016, which looks like a nice bargain at the moment. Still, the Astros could potentially sell high and get a nice prospect or two in return from a contender.

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.