Thome is nice, but Twins still need infield help

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As a Twins fan I’ve been hoping they’ll sign either Felipe Lopez or Orlando Hudson to play second base and hit second in the lineup, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s beat writing tag team threw some cold water on both scenarios recently.
First here’s LaVelle E. Neal II on Lopez:

Lopez? Scouts tell me you want to hit the ball to him. Not the Twins’ way.

Looking at any kind of advanced defensive statistics is also “not the Twins’ way,” so Lopez’s solid showing in Ultimate Zone Rating since becoming a full-time second baseman is ignored. That’s unfortunate, because he has a decent glove and has hit .298/.366/.409 over the past two seasons. He’d help the Twins plenty.
And now here’s Joe Christensen on Hudson:

I’ve been told Hudson had little interest in the Twins in the past but seemed humbled after last offseason, when he was a Type A free agent and had to settle for an incentive laden one-year deal with the Dodgers. … The Twins are discussing it, but my guess is Hudson signs elsewhere.

Right now the list of quality free agent infielders has dwindled considerably and the Twins’ projected lineup has Nick Punto starting at second base and Brendan Harris starting at third base, so not making a serious run at Lopez or Hudson would be very disappointing unless general manager Bill Smith has something else up his sleeve. And usually he doesn’t.

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.