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Yankees GM Brian Cashman will prioritize pitching leading up to the trade deadline

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The Yankees have lost four-fifths of their starting rotation with Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova all sidelined due to injury, but general manager Brian Cashman isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the season. In fact, he told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York via phone today that he continues to look for ways to upgrade his pitching staff.

“I have to reinforce our pitching, in my opinion. I have things that I feel I have to try to do, that I’m trying to do, but it is easier said than done.”

“We have to try to improve, reinforce and upgrade, certainly. We certainly we would love to have some significant upgrades but when you lose four out of five starters, it is hard to re-materialize the same type of abilities with the guys you lost. It is whether you incrementally upgrade.”

The Yankees acquired veteran right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks in exchange for left-hander Vidal Nuno earlier this month, but their bruised and battered staff doesn’t exactly have the look of a contender right now. They’ll begin the second half with a rotation consisting of McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda, David Phelps, Shane Greene, and Chase Whitley. Some reinforcements would be nice.

There has been plenty of speculation about a possible trade with the Phillies for Cliff Lee, but he hasn’t pitched in the majors in two months due to an elbow strain. The 35-year-old southpaw is slated to be activated next Monday, so he could theoretically make two starts to prove his health and effectiveness before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He’s owed around $12 million for the rest of this season and $25 million next season while his contract includes a $27 million team option for 2017 or a $12 million buyout. The Yankees are one of 20 teams on on Lee’s no-trade list, so he would have to sign off on a potential deal.

The Yankees will begin the second half of the season at 47-47, five games behind the first-place Orioles in the American League East.

Dodgers trade A.J. Ellis to the Phillies for Carlos Ruiz

Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers
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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Dodgers have acquired catcher Carlos Ruiz and cash from the Phillies in exchange for catcher A.J. Ellis, minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans, and a player to be named later. It was reported on Wednesday that Ruiz and first baseman Ryan Howard both cleared waivers and that Ruiz was drawing interest from a couple of teams.

Ruiz, 37, has served as the backup catcher behind Cameron Rupp. Over 193 plate appearances, he hit .261/.368/.352. He continued to play solid defense and has always had a reputation for handling his pitchers very well. In fact, in a commercial for the video game MLB 2k11, former Phillie Roy Halladay essentially professed his love for Ruiz:

Ellis, 35, is a free agent after the season while Ruiz has a club option for the 2017 season worth $4.5 million. It seems likely that the Dodgers pick up that option and make Ruiz Grandal’s backup next year. Ellis hit a lousy .194/.285/.252 in 161 plate appearances, but the Phillies aren’t particularly concerned with his production since they’re still facilitating their rebuilding process.

Bergjans, 23, has spent the season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’s posted a 4.98 ERA with a 133/29 K/BB ratio in 130 innings spanning 21 starts and three relief appearances. He went to school in Haverford, PA so the Phillies are bringing in a local guy.

Jose Bautista returns from the disabled list

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jayshits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista has been activated from the 15-day disabled list ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Angels, the club announced. Utilityman Ryan Goins has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to create room on the roster.

Bautista missed the minimum 15 days due to a sprained left knee. He’s battled injuries throughout the season, limiting him to just 355 plate appearances over 80 games. He’ll resume play with a .222/.349/.444 triple-slash line, 15 home runs, and 48 RBI.

Bautista is in Thursday night’s starting lineup, batting first and serving as the DH.