Now you're just making stuff up, Kenny

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FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal thinks the Jays should let Alex Rios depart on waivers, deleting his contract while getting nothing in return. It’s an arguable position, except that Rosenthal doesn’t put forth much of an argument. Instead, he starts off with this:
The “trade” would not be Rios for whatever meager package the White Sox might offer. The “trade” would be for the $58.7 million that Rios is guaranteed from 2010 to ’14, an average of nearly $12 million per year.
Know what a team could have bought for $12 million last offseason? Outfielder Bobby Abreu, second baseman Orlando Hudson, first baseman Russell Branyan and shortstop Adam Everett — and still had $800,000 to spare.

And Adam Everett!!! Be still my heart.
This is the argument?
First, those players are probably going to end up making over $15 million this year. It’s fun to pretend Hudson’s deal was worth the guaranteed $3.38 million, but he’ll earn $8 million if he stays healthy. He’s already guaranteed himself more than $6 million.
Second, no one team could have had those four players for even the $15 million. It’s never going to work that way. If the Angels faced competition for Abreu, he wouldn’t have signed for $5 million. If the Blue Jays or any other random team offered him $5 million on December 15, he would have laughed in their faces.
So, let’s just say the Blue Jays were waiting in the weeds for all of these guys. Well, Abreu might have been realistic. Not at $5 million, but maybe $7 million-$8 million. Hudson? Back to Toronto and J.P. Ricciardi’s loving arms? Probably not. Plus, he would have cost a draft pick. Branyan? They weren’t going to offer him regular playing time, so he still would have gone to Seattle. Everett? No, I just don’t get that one.
But Rosenthal’s point is that the Jays could use Rios’ money on free agents. And they could. It probably wouldn’t work out, but they could. First, let’s run down all of Ricciardi’s successful big free-agent acquisitions.

Should we do it again? OK, you can say A.J. Burnett was a modest success. He was an above average starter while earning $31 million over three seasons, going 38-24 with a 3.94 ERA, but he only stayed healthy in his walk year. The other three multiyear deals Ricciardi handed out to bring in free agents all ended up with him eating money: B.J. Ryan, Frank Thomas and Corey Koskie. If Ricciardi chooses to spend Rios’ money on free agents, he’ll likely end up with worse players and fewer draft picks.
No, I hardly think that’s the answer. Rios has been a disappointment since landing his big contract prior to 2008, but he’s still been a huge bargain to this point. Yes, he’s eventually going to make $12 million in 2011. However, in 2008, he earned $4.235 million. In 2009, he’s making $5.9 million. Next year, it’s going to be $9.7 million. The odds are still very good that he’ll be worth every penny he’s earning, particularly if the Jays face facts and realize they’d be better off with him in center and Vernon Wells in a corner.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.