Billy Wagner to retire after 2010

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Wagner Braves.jpgBilly Wagner told manager Bobby Cox that he intends to retire at the end of the season, reports Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Braves inked the 38-year-old southpaw to a one-year, $7 million contract over the winter. The deal includes a vesting option for 2011, something Wagner says the Braves simply “threw in.”

“I wanted a chance at 400, and that’s great,” Wagner said. “If it
happens this year, great, if not, then so be it. Just try to make this
one of those years to really enjoy and have a good time and maybe win a
championship along the way. Plus Bobby, he’s always meant a lot to me,
growing up. To play my final year and him being his final year – it was
the right timing.”

Wagner starts Friday’s action with 386 career saves — currently sixth all-time. Barring injury, he should be a lock for 400 saves, although it should be mentioned that he has only had two save chances in April, of which he is 1-for-2.

When looking at Wagner’s place in history, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better left-handed relief pitcher. Wagner boasts a 2.39 ERA and 1.01 WHIP during his 16-year career, averaging an eye-popping 11.8 K/9. I guess you could throw John Franco, Sparky Lyle, Jesse Orosco and former Tigers’ left-hander John Hiller in the discussion, but Wagner sits at the top of my ballot.

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.