Cliff Lee

Would Cliff Lee’s salary be “off the books” in Texas?

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Buster Olney raises an interesting point in his column today. One I’ve never really heard about or considered: that a team like the Rangers may, in effect, consider Cliff Lee’s salary separate and apart from the rest of the payroll:

I’ve heard of situations where an owner will tell his general manager that he — the owner — will take responsibility for a particular signing. In other words, the owner says, “I’ll pay for this player and in effect, he won’t be part of the budget we give you.”

And Buster notes that the group of Rangers execs who visited Lee in Arkansas yesterday included one of the silent partners, billionaire Ray Davis.

Because there’s no salary cap in baseball, the concept of “off the books” is one of semantics, really, but this is a pretty interesting notion.  If the owners — not just Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, but the money men too — decide that there is a sufficient value to be gained in terms of ticket sales and cache and all of that in signing Lee, the usual budget numbers we ascribe to a team like Texas may be moot. And the potential payroll-killing effects of signing Lee may be as well.

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.

Royals sign Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Royals have signed starter Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension.

Duffy was arbitration eligible this offseason and would’ve been a free agent next winter if he hadn’t signed the deal. Given his stuff he might’ve made a mint as a free agent, but he’s also been inconsistent at times and any pitcher is an injury away from losing a payday, making this a nice, lucrative bet for the lefty.

Duffy, 28, posted a 3.51 ERA and a 188/42 K/BB ratio across 179.2 innings in 2016.