Marlins looking to sign Johnson, trade Hermida

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Josh Johnson and Jeremy Hermida were born one day apart in January of 1984, they’re both arbitration eligible this offseason, and they’re both under team control through 2011, but Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins are taking very different approaches with the two players.
According to Frisaro the Marlins are interested in signing Johnson to a long-term contract extension at some point this offseason, but are likely to make Hermida available in trades. Both approaches make sense, because Johnson has reemerged as one of the elite starting pitchers in baseball since returning from Tommy John elbow surgery while Hermida has largely disappointed after coming up through the minors as a top prospect.
Johnson is 22-6 with a 3.34 ERA and 268/85 K/BB ratio in 296 innings spread over 47 starts since making his way back following surgery, showing increased velocity after going under the knife. Frisaro writes that the Marlins will make a push to sign him “in the upcoming weeks” and have discussed offering him a contract covering “at least four seasons.” He speculates that the Marlins would have to top the four-year, $38 million deal Zack Greinke signed with the Royals last winter.
Hermida was a 2002 first-round pick and Baseball America ranked him as the No. 4 prospect in baseball for 2006, but he’s hit just .265/.344/.425 through 1,929 plate appearances while missing time with various injuries. He’s still just 25 years old, but he’s about to get fairly expensive via arbitration and the cost-cutting Marlins seemingly aren’t willing to show any more patience. Frisaro lists the Mariners, Rays, Mets, Blue Jays, and Cubs as possibly having interest in Hermida.

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.