Pirates clinch MLB's worst record and next year's No. 1 pick

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Last night the Pirates won for just the 56th time this season and still managed to clinch the worst record in baseball. That and an 18th consecutive losing season is obviously the bad news. The good news is that they’ve also secured the No. 1 overall pick in next June’s draft.
Right now Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is considered the draft class’ top prospect, with UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole and TCU left-hander Matt Purke among those also in the mix as possible first selections.
During the current 18-year losing streak Pittsburgh has picked first overall twice, selecting Clemson right-hander Kris Benson in 1996 and Ball State right-hander Bryan Bullington in 2002. Both pitchers were sidetracked by major injuries and have combined to win just 71 career games, with Bullington contributing one victory to that total.
Rendon already has health-related question marks, as he’s recovering from a major ankle injury suffered in June. Asked to comment on whether Rendon was likely to be atop the Pirates’ draft board, general manager Neal Huntington said:

I’ll be able to give a lot more information about who we take No. 1 in the country after we take him. There’s a good list of guys available, some college arms, and there could be some college bats. Prior to the injury, Rendon’s a very interesting player. We’ve got to see where he is post-injury.

Also of note is that the Pirates already have their “third baseman of the future” in Pedro Alvarez, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Of course, one of them could always move to first base and … well, I guess having to figure that out would qualify as a nice problem for the Pirates to have.

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.