Trevor Hoffman

Trevor Hoffman keeping his eye on the Diamondbacks

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Just one day after we learned that Trevor Hoffman would return for another season if given a chance to close, the all-time saves leader tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that he sees a potential fit with the Diamondbacks.

The chances of Hoffman finding another closing gig are slim, but he isn’t completely off base. Not only are the D-Backs without an in-house favorite for the ninth inning next season, but they also recently hired former Padres GM Kevin Towers as their new general manager.

“I’ve known K.T. for such a long time and I figured having a little history there would help,” Hoffman said about playing in Phoenix, which would keep him close to home. “But I don’t know. I’m coming off a tough year. I don’t know if people are going to be turned off by that or not. I hope the strong second half I had will compensate.”

“Usually [money] is what it always comes down to,” Hoffman said. “It’ll be interesting to see if [the D-backs] get back to me. I’m open for anything. I want to take a look at all my options.”

Hoffman, who turned 43 last month, posted a 5.89 ERA and 30/19 K/BB ratio over 47 1/3 innings with the Brewers this past season. Much was made of his early season struggles — something his agent Rick Thurman blames on triceps tendinitis, by the way — but Hoffman actually had a 2.66 ERA and 13/6 K/BB ratio over 20 1/3 innings during the second half of the season, reaching the 600-save plateau in September.

Thurman said he has has yet to speak directly with Towers, but talked to the Diamondbacks last Friday about Hoffman and a number of his other clients, including Brian Fuentes and Octavio Dotel, both of whom also closed games last season.

Hoffman could probably find a job if he is willing to work on the cheap, but don’t forget that Rafael Soriano, Scott Downs, J.J. Putz, Kevin Gregg, Kerry Wood, Joaquin Benoit and Koji Uehara, among others (including that Mariano guy), are all free agents, as well. With only so many closer gigs to go around, the reality is that we may have seen the last of “Hells Bells.”

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.