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Storylines: Cubs, Rangers finalists for Tyson Ross

Tyson Ross is close to deciding on his free agent destination and it is down to two teams. That and all the other news and notes from around baseball on Thursday...

Top Storylines:

- One of the hottest free agent starting pitchers appears close to be making a decision on where he will play for the 2017 season.  Right-hander Tyson Ross is apparently expected to go to either the Texas Rangers or the Chicago Cubs per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.  Ross was surprisingly non-tendered by the San Diego Padres at the beginning of the offseason and became a free agent.  He missed practically all of 2017 due to constant shoulder problems that eventually led to surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome.  He was expected to make approximately $10MM in arbitration so the Padres non-tendered him in an effort to save some money.  The Padres didn’t close the door on a reunion but it appears Ross will be heading somewhere else.  Over the course of his tenure with the Padres, Ross put up a 3.07 ERA across 516.2 innings of work with a 9.2 SO/9 ratio and a 58.2 groundball percentage.  If fully recovered from his surgery, he would be a huge steal on the free agent market for either team.

Other Storylines:

- The Cincinnati Reds reportedly tried to trade second baseman Brandon Phillips again earlier in the offseason.  They had an agreement in place with the Atlanta Braves in November but Philips exercised his no-trade clause and vetoed the deal per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  This marks the second time Phillips blocked a trade out of Cincinnati as the Reds tried to deal him to the Washington Nationals last offseason but he vetoed the deal then.

- The Cubs are planning on utilizing a six-man pitching rotation for 2017 per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  The Cubs saw their rotation perform under a heavy burden in the playoffs and apparently want to ease the lead in 2017 before the high amount of work collapses the rotation.  They have Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey, Mike Montgomery as their first five.  Should the Cubs sign Ross, they’ll have their six but if not then they’ll consider putting Travis Wood back in the rotation.

- The Los Angeles Dodgers remain the heavy favorites to land second baseman Brian Dozier in a trade with the Minnesota Twins per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  The two teams have reportedly agreed on top pitching prospect Jose De Leon being in the deal but the Twins reportedly want more and the Dodgers aren’t blinking.  The Twins are reportedly hoping to find a resolution to the Dozier trade talks within the next week.  They’ll either decide to keep him for the time being or deal him if the right package is offered.

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