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.

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.