Starting pitcher Tyson Ross is one of the marquee free agents remaining on the market, and the race for his services is heating up.

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Nationals Reportedly on Outside of Ross Market

Thursday, Jan. 5

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Washington Nationals want Ross but are a “long shot.”

Cubs and Rangers Considered ‘Favorites’ to Land Ross

Wednesday, Jan. 4

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports deemed the defending World Series champions and the Texas Rangers the “favorites” after meeting with the right-hander, and TR Sullivan of said the “Rangers really like Tyson Ross and are being aggressive in trying to get a deal done, sources say.”

Sullivan noted that Ross started Opening Day for the San Diego Padres but didn’t pitch again during the 2016 season because of shoulder inflammation. He then had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in October, which led to the Padres’ decision to opt against tendering a contract for him.

R.J. Anderson of said Texas’ starting staff “remains messy behind Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels” even though it signed Andrew Cashner this offseason. Anderson suggested Ross could be a third starter for the Rangers if he is healthy again in 2017.

As for the Cubs, Jesse Rogers of wrote in November that the team announced it declined the $12 million option on Jason Hammel’s contract for the 2017 season. While the Cubs boast arguably the best top four of any starting rotation in baseball with Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey, there are questions about who will replace Hammel as the fifth man.

Mike Montgomery is one option, especially since he has starting experience. However, moving him to the rotation would take away a valuable southpaw from the bullpen who notched the save in Chicago’s dramatic Game 7 victory in the World Series.

There are clear questions about Ross’ health for the Cubs, Rangers or whichever team ultimately signs him. Still, he is just 29 years old and has proved in the past he can be an ace-like asset on the mound. He appeared in more than 30 games in three straight seasons before 2016 and posted head-turning ERA numbers in his three full years in a Padres uniform:

Signing Ross would be something of a low-risk, high-reward play for the Cubs.

He would be yet another shutdown pitcher if he returned to form, which would make the blossoming powerhouse even more formidable compared to the rest of the National League Central. If the health problems did re-emerge, Chicago still has four high-quality starters and can turn to Montgomery to fill the fifth spot.

There is more risk involved for Texas based on the sheer need for starting pitching, but the reward is also enticing. It is no wonder the team met with him as spring training approaches.

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