Whether they sign Tyson Ross or not – and the Cubs are perceived as one of four finalists for the righty – the defending champs intend at some point next season to use a six-man rotation as a way to lessen the burden on starters who pitched through October last year.

The Cubs and Rangers are two main contenders for Ross, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo first reported, and the Nationals also are interested, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. He is expected to make a decision in the next week.

Ross started Opening Day last year for the Padres and then did not pitch again in 2016. He had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery done in October by Dr. Robert Thompson, who performed the same procedure on Matt Harvey.

The Cubs, Rangers and other interested clubs are willing to gamble that Ross, who was non-tendered, returns to the form in which he had a 3.03 ERA in 64 starts for San Diego in 2014-15. Still, there is uncertainty over whether Ross will be ready to begin the season.

If the Cubs are unable to sign Ross, they could pivot and try to re-sign Travis Wood to serve as a swingman. They also want to take a look at Caleb Smith, a lefty the Brewers took from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft in December and then traded to the Cubs.