Friday's minor moves: Rangers, Dodgers, Marlins

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Rangers claimed infielder Joe Inglett off waivers from the Blue Jays.
Inglett, 31, played a key role of the 2008 Jays, but he spent most of last season back in the minors, as the team preferred the right-handed-hitting Jose Bautista in the spot the lefty-swinging Inglett could have occupied. He’s a career .293/.349/.396 hitter in 639 at-bats, but since he can’t play shortstop and he’s below average at second base, he’s had a difficult time establishing himself. He’d make plenty of sense as a 25th man for a Rangers team that will rarely if ever take its second and third basemen out of the lineup.
Dodgers signed RHP Justin Miller to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Miller likely would have gotten a major league deal had he not injured his elbow late in the year and required surgery. He had a 3.18 ERA in 56 2/3 innings for the Giants last season. Still, his peripherals suggest it was a fluke. He possesses a nice slider, but his fastball isn’t what it used to be and he’s always walked a few too many guys. The minor league contract was appropriate.
Brewers signed outfielder Trent Oeltjen to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Oeltjen, a 26-year-old out of Australia, was a brief sensation for the Diamondbacks last season, going 12-for-24 with three homers, a triple and two doubles in his first five major league games. Unfortunately, he went 5-for-46 the rest of the way and was dropped from the 40-man roster at season’s end. Oeltjen is a quality defender in an outfield corner and a left-handed hitter, so he has a shot at a career as a bench player. Still, there’s no clear strength to his game that’s going to help carry him. The Brewers figure to have him start out at Triple-A.
Orioles re-signed catcher Chad Moeller to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Moeller looked around for a guaranteed deal, but he couldn’t find one. He hit .258/.313/.438 in 89 at-bats while backing up Matt Wieters last season, and he’ll probably be the favorite to hold the job next year, though Craig Tatum and Michel Hernandez will get a chance to compete.
Marlins signed RHP Jesse Foppert, RHP John Fulton, RHP Kasey Olenberger, INF-OF Hector Luna, INF Vinny Rottino and OF Brandon Tripp to minor league contracts.
Olenberger, Luna and Rottino received invitations to spring training. Olenberger, 31, is being re-signed after posting a 1.10 ERA in 65 2/3 innings for the Marlins’ Double-A club last season. It’s surprising he opted to stick around, given that the Marlins called up all kinds of pitchers last season yet never gave him a second thought.
Luna, 29, batted .351/.414/.610 in 313 at-bats for the Dodgers’ Triple-A club in Las Vegas last season. If only he kept himself in better shape, he’d be in the middle of a fine career as a utilityman. As is, he’s too poor of an infielder to be of real use.
Foppert is still kicking around after all this time. The one-time elite prospect hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2005. He had a 6.27 ERA in eight starts and two relief appearances for the Giants’ Double-A affiliate last season.

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.