Micah Owings

Diamondbacks will give Micah Owings some time at first base

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I’ve written about Micah Owings a few times recently (these are called “slow news days”) and each time suggested that he might have a brighter future as a hitter than as a pitcher at this point.

Apparently the Diamondbacks and new general manager Kevin Towers agree, because after signing Owings to a minor-league contract yesterday they plan to give him some time at first base during spring training.

Owings has hit .293 with nine homers and a .538 slugging percentage in 198 career plate appearances (while posting a 5.11 ERA in 410 innings), but he’s never actually started a game anywhere but pitcher.

Here’s how Towers described his potential role in Arizona:

I would imagine he’ll see a little bit of time at first base, how much time I can’t tell you. I know we definitely want to get him some at-bats. He is kind of a dual-weapon guy. It would be nice to have a guy who on the days he may not be pitching you would still have a very good right-handed bat to win a game for you.

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out for Owings in spring training, because he probably has more value as a hitter who can also pitch some low-leverage innings than as a pitcher with a good bat. Technically he’ll be competing for a long relief job.

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.