Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka had a heck of a game against the Marlins on Friday

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Yankees GM Brian Cashman signed Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract in January, then spent some time deflating expectations for the right-hander. His spring performance, including his final outing Friday afternoon against the Marlins, may have reinflated those expectations.

Hiroki Kuroda started and tossed three scoreless innings before Tanaka entered the game to start the fourth. Tanaka went six innings, allowed zero runs on three hits (all singles), walked none, and struck out ten. To put that in perspective, there were only eight games pitched in all of 2013’s regular season that matched Tanaka’s outing: six or fewer innings pitched, ten or more strikeouts, and zero runs allowed.

Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO
Justin Verlander 2013-09-29 DET MIA L 0-1 6.0 3 0 0 1 10
Justin Verlander 2013-09-23 DET MIN L 3-4 6.0 6 0 0 3 12
Scott Kazmir 2013-09-06 CLE NYM W 8-1 6.0 4 0 0 0 12
Max Scherzer 2013-08-24 DET NYM W 3-0 6.0 3 0 0 4 11
Gio Gonzalez 2013-07-20 WSN LAD L 1-3 6.0 4 0 0 2 11
Julio Teheran 2013-06-28 ATL ARI W 3-0 6.0 4 0 0 1 10
Tony Cingrani 2013-04-28 CIN WSN W 5-2 6.0 2 0 0 1 11
Yu Darvish 2013-04-24 TEX LAA W 11-3 6.0 3 0 0 2 11
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/28/2014.

The Yankees’ only regret is that Tanaka didn’t turn in that impressive performance during a game that counts, but they hope he has more than one of those up his sleeve.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.

Report: The Nationals are still in on Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.

In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.

The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.