Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Volquez reacts after giving up a run to the Philadelphia Phillies during the second inning in Game 1 of the MLB National League Division Series baseball playoffs in Philadelphia

Reds now talking multi-year deal with Edinson Volquez

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The Reds haven’t been overly active in free agency this offseason, but they’ve done a nice job of locking up some of their key internal components.

Staff ace Bronson Arroyo was signed to a three-year, $35 million contract extension in early December.  Young power-hitting outfielder Jay Bruce inked a six-year, $51 million extension less than two weeks later.  Then first baseman Joey Votto got a three-year, $38 million extension on Monday and young starter Johnny Cueto scored a four-year, $27 million pact on Thursday.

But the Reds aren’t done yet.

According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, general manager Walt Jocketty said Friday that the club is talking about a multi-year contract with right-hander Edinson Volquez.

“We’re looking at both — one-year and multi-year,” said Jocketty. “We’re hopeful that we’ll get something done.”

The 27-year-old right-hander missed a good portion of the 2010 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he struck out 67 batters in 62.2 innings once he was cleared for live action and he has shown flashes of true excellence for the past several years.

Volquez is eligible for arbitration this winter for the first time.  He requested a $2 million salary for 2011 when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this week.  The Reds counted at $1.1 million.  Both sides can avoid the need for an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a multi-year pact that would lock Volquez in at a set price through his three upcoming seasons of arbitration eligibility, and maybe even a free agent year or two.

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.