Cincinnati Reds v Philadelphia Phillies, Game 2

Reds ink Jay Bruce to six-year, $51M contract extension

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From ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick comes word that the Reds have signed outfielder Jay Bruce to a six-year, $51 million contract extension with a seventh-year club option that could bring the total worth of the deal to $63 million.

Bruce was a first-year arbitration-eligible player.  He could have taken a path that would have meant negotiating raises year-to-year but that also provides a quicker path to free agency.  Instead, he committed himself long-term to the Reds and will play out his prime years in Cincinnati.

The 23-year-old registered a rock solid .281/.353/.493 batting line, 25 home runs and 70 RBI in 2010 for the National League Central champion Reds.  He took a bit longer than expected to fully develop, but he’s a real-deal run producer now and is likely to mash in Great American Ballpark throughout the course of the contract.

The Reds inked starter Bronson Arroyo to a three-year, $35 million extension earlier this month.  They haven’t been too active on the free agent market, but at least the Red Legs are keeping their core intact.

Winning the NL Central in 2010 wasn’t a fluke and Cincy has all the pieces to do it again.

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)
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.