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UPDATE: Orioles re-sign Cesar Izturis following J.J. Hardy trade

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UPDATE: That was quick. Baltimore has re-signed Izturis to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million in base salary, so he’ll go from starting shortstop to backing up Hardy and second baseman Brian Roberts.

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Yesterday the Orioles made a shrewd move to address their hole at shortstop, sending a pair of minor-league relievers to the Twins for J.J. Hardy, but that apparently won’t stop them from trying to re-sign 2010 starter Cesar Izturis as a utility man.

Along with Hardy the Orioles also acquired a potential utility man from the Twins in Brendan Harris, but according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail “didn’t totally close the door on re-signing Izturis despite Harris’ inclusion in the trade.”

Of course, while Izturis and Harris would both technically be “utility men” in that they’d each be backup infielders, they’re completely different players. Izturis is a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop with good speed and a weak bat, while Harris lacks the range to be a regular at shortstop or second base, isn’t useful for much behind platooning versus left-handed pitching, and was included in the deal solely because the Twins wanted to dump his salary.

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.