Yankees considering six-man rotation when Masahiro Tanaka returns

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ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand writes that the Yankees are considering moving to a six-man rotation whenever Masahiro Tanaka is activated from the disabled list in September. Not only that, but the Yankees could stick with the six-man rotation in 2015 as well.

Tanaka, who has been sidelined since July 9 with a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow, threw 35 pitches over two innings of batting practice to Zelous Wheeler and Brendan Ryan on Saturday morning. He threw all of his pitches and could throw a simulated game as he takes the next step towards a return.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild explained the logic behind potentially going to a six-man rotation:

“We have 21 games in 20 days so we are going to have to use six starters at some point,” said Rothschild. “So I think everyone in baseball is going to look for alternative ways to keep guys healthy. If that’s part of what is on the radar, you look at it and consider it.”

Tanaka went on the disabled list as an early candidate for the American League Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards, sporting a 12-4 record with a 2.51 ERA and a 135/19 K/BB ratio in 129 1/3 innings across 18 starts.

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.