Red Sox can't re-sign Martinez just yet

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The Red Sox may well want Victor Martinez as their catcher beyond 2010. He’s not much defensively and he never will be, but he doesn’t embarrass himself and it could be a long time before a real upgrade is available. Still, despite Martinez’s obvious eagerness to get a deal done now, nothing figures to happen for two very big reasons.
1. Joe Mauer still hasn’t reupped with the Twins.
Mauer would likely spur the biggest bidding war yet between the Yankees and Red Sox if the Twins fail to sign him to an extension past 2010. As is, Mauer and Martinez are far and away the top catchers set to be available next winter. A.J. Pierzynski, Gerald Laird and Bengie Molina are the best of the rest. Things don’t look any better two years down the line. Yadier Molina has a 2012 option that’s sure to be picked up. Jorge Posada will be a free agent, but it’s doubtful that he’ll be a catcher in 2012. Brian McCann and Russell Martin are still three years away from free agency (four for McCann if his option is picked up).
Odds are that a Mauer deal will get done, and that could spur the Red Sox into action with Martinez. However, there’s another factor that weighs heavily that will be overlooked by some:
2. Martinez’s current contract is extremely friendly for luxury-tax purposes.
I touched on this subject back in December.
With all of their recent moves, the Red Sox are in danger of having to pay the luxury tax for the first time since 2004. An extension for Martinez wouldn’t necessarily add anything to the team’s 2010 payroll, but it would immediately raise Martinez’s luxury tax figure from $7.68 million and replace it with his new average annual salary (with the 2010 salary still factoring into the mix). Since it would likely take at least $12 million per year to sign Martinez, the jump could push the Red Sox over the top.
So, even if it costs a few extra million dollars then, the Red Sox would likely be better off waiting until next winter to re-sign Martinez.

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.