Red Sox get shortstop Alex Gonzalez from Reds

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General manager Theo Epstein and the Red Sox stayed busy this afternoon, sending Single-A infielder Kristopher Negron to the Reds to reacquire Alex Gonzalez three seasons after he was Boston’s starting shortstop. Gonzalez hit just .255/.299/.397 in 111 games with the Red Sox in 2006 and has been even worse this year, batting .210/.258/.296 in 68 games after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
Gonzalez has long been one of baseball’s worst hitters, as his .686 career OPS ranks seventh-lowest among all active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. For quite a while his strong glove was enough to make him a decent enough all-around player despite the horrible bat, but now that aging and injuries have turned Gonzalez into a mediocre defender his usefulness is pretty iffy.
Boston has been starting Nick Green at shortstop since dumping Julio Lugo on the Cardinals only to watch Jed Lowrie land back on the disabled list with more wrist problems, so obviously the threshold for upgrading the position isn’t high. Gonzalez is probably better than Chris Woodward, who the Red Sox have used as a utility man since claiming him off waivers last week, but he’s unlikely to really be any better than Green.
Of course, the hope is that Lowrie will be able to come off the shelf soon and can stay healthy down the stretch, in which case Gonzalez will be nothing more than a utility man and the Red Sox will have simply dropped about a million bucks and a low-level prospect for the marginal difference between two sub par shortstops. Gonzalez also has a $6 million team option for 2010, but don’t expect Boston to pick it up.

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.