A source tells Boston-based writer Maureen Mullen that the Phillies could be interested in signing Jason Varitek as a backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz.
How seriously should we take this one? Hard to say. Unless the Phillies find a taker for Brian Schneider’s $1.5 million contract for next season, it doesn’t sound like a very realistic fit.
Varitek, who turns 39 next April, batted .232/.293/.473 with seven homers and 16 RBI in 112 at-bats this past season and was 9-for-43 (21 percent) in throwing out would-be basestealers. The veteran backstop was limited to just five games and 17 at-bats after the All-Star break due to a broken right foot.
It’s very possible that his 14-year run in Boston is over, but Peter Gammons of MLB.com presented a scenario this week where Jarrod Saltalammachia and Varitek could be a tandem behind the plate next season if Victor Martinez signs elsewhere this winter. Yeah, that wouldn’t make anybody nervous or anything.
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.
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.