Orioles catch break: Jones loses super-two tiebreaker

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MLB announced Wednesday that the Cubs’ Mike Fontenot had won a tiebreaker against Adam Jones and the Reds’ Micah Owings to become the last super-two arbitration-eligible player.
All three players had two years and 139 days of service time. Initial reports had the cutoff at 141 days, but that proved to be false.
As we touched on last month, Arizona’s Mark Reynolds was another young star who barely missed the cutoff. From that article:

Under the rules of MLB, players with between three and six years of service time, as well as the top one-sixth of players with between two and three years, qualify for arbitration after every season. Those top one-sixth are known as “super-two” players, and that one rule is why we’ve seen teams so cautious about promoting prospects in April and early May during recent years.

The Orioles don’t stand to gain quite as much as the Diamondbacks did with Reynolds, but Jones, who just claimed a Gold Glove on Monday, could have earned $3 million or so next year had he qualified for arbitration. Now he’ll probably receive $500,000-$600,000. The difference will also be felt in future years, as super-two players traditionally do better financially all of the way through their arbitration years.
As for Fontenot, the Cubs were already expecting him to qualify for arbitration. He probably won’t earn more than $1 million, but he doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans anyway, and he could be traded or non-tendered this winter.
Other super-two players include Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence and Matt Garza. The recently traded Carlos Gomez also made the cutoff, but the Brewers were accounting for that when they picked him up for J.J. Hardy. Alex Gordon is another super-two player. He was due to have three full years in before the Royals manipulated his service time in August to gain control of him for another year.

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.