The Yankees are going to rest A-Rod down the stretch

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There was a lot of harrumphing last night as Joe Girardi used the bullpen’s second string in extra innings against the Rays. That harrumphing led to claims this morning that the Yankees really don’t care about the division and are just playing for the wild card.  I kind of doubt that they’re actually planning on that — baseball teams are always trying to win — it just may be that health and fatigue concerns are making such a course the likely one.

Latest example: A-Rod, who was gimpy on the basepaths last night. Buster Olney suspects that this will lead to a lot of days off for him down the stretch. May be the same for Nick Swisher, actually, as he looked practically crippled trying to run out a ground ball.  He’s having an MRI today.

The Yankees aren’t young. And they haven’t been terribly healthy this year. They are still talented, of course, and will likely prove dangerous in the postseason. But only if they can get back into better shape. Doing things like resting the stars and spelling the pen when necessary will help them do that.

And if it forces them to the wild card, well, so be it. And that’s even if the tabloids go crazy.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.