Angels owner shuts door on Holliday, weighs Bay

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moreno champagne.jpgAngels owner Arte Moreno gave the Los Angeles Times a bunch of quotes that illustrate where his team stands entering free agency.
*Reaffirming GM Tony Reagins’ quotes from a couple of days ago, Moreno said there will be no pursuit of free agent Matt Holliday:
“He is not going to be an Angel. We are not looking at Holliday at all.”
Moreno also made it pretty clear that free agent Vladimir Guerrero wasn’t in the team’s plans, but that Jason Bay, who reportedly turned down an offer from the Red Sox, might be.
*Moreno claimed the team is currently looking at $101 million in commitments for 2010, leaving the Angels not far short of their $113 million output from last season.
Guerrero, John Lackey and Chone Figgins are all off the books, but the Angels are currently at $76 million for next year anyway and it seems they’re currently accounting for $25 million in arbitration raises. Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis are all eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, and Mike Napoli and Maicer Izturis are all due raises. $22 million-$24 million looks like a reasonable estimate for what they’ll earn.
So, that’s $100 million. Add in $4 million more for free agent Darren Oliver or a similar replacement. If the Angels want to stay in the $120 million range, then they’re only going to be able to sign one player from the group of Bay, Lackey and Figgins.
The fact that the team is spending $22 million on Gary Matthews Jr., Scot Shields and the already forgotten Justin Speier doesn’t help matters.
*Moreno did suggest that the Angels could save money by turning third base over to Brandon Wood:
“Eventually, Brandon is going to get his 600, 800, 1,000 at-bats. He’s done everything he can in our minor league system. He’s been a very patient guy. … I can’t tell you he’ll be guaranteed a job. He’s one of the players that’s earned an opportunity to try to win a job.”
Given the Angels lack of payroll flexibility, it seems pretty likely that Wood will be in the lineup on Opening Day.

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.