Red Sox reportedly nearing four-year contract extension with Josh Beckett

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ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that long-term contract talks between Josh Beckett and the Red Sox “have progressed to the point that there is optimism a deal will be completed in the next week or two.”
According to Olney the Red Sox have offered Beckett a four-year deal worth “in the range of $65 million to $70 million.” This offseason Boston signed John Lackey–who’s about 18 months older than Beckett–to a five-year, $82.5 million deal, so a four-year extension for Beckett would lock them both up through the 2014 season.
Over the weekend ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes reported that the Red Sox were unwilling to guarantee Beckett a fifth year, but if Olney’s subsequent report is on the mark that apparently isn’t a deal-breaker for the 29-year-old right-hander.
Beckett is in the final season of a three-year, $30 million deal after going 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA and 199/55 K/BB ratio in 212.1 innings spread over 32 starts in 2009. During four years in Boston he’s 65-34 with a 4.05 ERA in 122 regular-season starts and 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA in the playoffs.

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.