Report: the Diamondbacks are prepared to unload the money truck on Yu Darvish

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Last month we heard reports that Japanese ace Yu Darvish could be posted this winter (i.e. his current club, Nippon Ham, could make him available to major league teams for a price). Now Patrick Newman of the excellent NPB Tracker passes along word that the
Diamondbacks are willing to go as high as $80 million for Darvish.

Some portion of that would probably be the posting fee and some portion of it the actual contract, what with the previous record posting fee being  $51.1 million for Daisuke Matsuzaka.  With his contract added in, Matsuzaka ended up costing the Sox over $100 million. Figuring that (a) the Diamondbacks aren’t likely to spend like the Sox; and (b) Dice-K ended up being, you know, not worth $100 million, you’d have to assume that the $80 million figure would cover it all.

As for Darvish the pitcher: he’s been worked hard during his professional career. There are some that categorize him as a Dice-K style nibbler. Not sure if that’s just stereotyping — a Japanese pitcher being a “nibbler” is becoming like a white guy being a “possession receiver” in its cliche value — but the point is that not everyone is as excited about Darvish today as they were a couple of years ago.

But, hey: nibbler or not, overpriced or not, he would almost certainly constitute an improvement for the Diamondbacks as they try to build their team around starting pitching.

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.