Nationals activate Anthony Rendon from the disabled list for his season debut … as a second baseman

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Anthony Rendon is off the disabled list and will make his 2015 debut for the Nationals tonight after missing the first two months of the season with knee and oblique injuries.

Rendon played mostly third base last year while finishing fifth in the MVP voting as a 24-year-old, but he’s rejoining the Nationals’ lineup as a second baseman so that they can continue to play Yunel Escobar at third base.

If healthy Rendon is a huge addition to the Nationals. He’s a plus defensive player at second base or third base and hit .287 with 21 homers and an .824 OPS in 153 games last season to rank second among NL position players in Wins Above Replacement.

Rendon’s return means much less playing time for Danny Espinosa, who’s been the Nationals’ primary second baseman and now moves back into a bench role after hitting .246 with six homers and a .767 OPS in 44 games.

Cubs acquire Martín Maldonado from the Royals

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Last night Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was placed on the injured list with a strained muscle in his right foot. That injury inspired the Cubs to go out and get another catcher. They acquired Martín Maldonado in a trade with Kansas City in exchange for lefty Mike Montgomery, in a deal that was announced after the Cubs loss to the Reds.

Maldonado, 32, was a Gold Glove winner in 2017 with the Angels. At the moment he’s hitting .227 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 74 games. Obviously, though, defense is his calling card, as he’s a .220 career hitter with 57 homers and 210 RBIs in 686 games.

Montgomery, 30, is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Cubs this year. He’s heading back to where his pro career began. He was drafted by Kanas City in 2008, though he was traded away in the James Shields/Wade David/Wil Myers deal in 2012. He made his big league debut for Seattle in 2015. Dayton Moore said last night that the Royals plan to use Montgomery in the rotation as a replacement for Homer Bailey, who was dealt to Oakland on Sunday.