Will the Orioles be 'buyers' this offseason?

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According to Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles are poised to be “buyers” this offseason, as they are in a better financial position than they have been in more than a decade.
“It’s the fun part of the job. This is the time for us to go up and hit,” Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. “Last year, we made a couple of trades, we signed five free agents. We were pretty active. Numerically, I think we’ll be more active dollar-wise than we were last year. We’re organized, we have our targets that we’re going to go after, and we’ll see how it goes and how the market unfolds.”
The team’s most pressing needs are to find a veteran starting pitcher and a middle-of-the-order bat to play first or third base. While they would likely have to overpay to sign any marquee free agents, they have expressed interest in John Lackey and Chone Figgins.
More realistic options are corner bats like Pedro Feliz, Adrian Beltre, Nick Johnson, Carlos Delgado, Troy Glaus or Hank Blalock. Whoever they sign, they will likely be a short-term stopgap until Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder are ready for the majors. As for a starting pitcher, expect the Orioles to be in the mix for Braden Looper, Randy Wolf or Jon Garland. MacPhail also hasn’t dismissed the possibility of signing a pitcher coming off injury like former ace Erik Bedard.
Zrebiec and Connolly point out that the Orioles have just three players (Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts and Brian Matusz) under contract beyond next season, so while it would be nice to see Peter Angelos finally open his wallet, now simply isn’t the time to spend just for spending’s sake. The Orioles aren’t a few pieces away from threatening the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. Let’s hope McPhail keeps making sound baseball decisions while the talent of Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman and Matusz incubates.

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.