Russ Adams

Former first-round pick Russ Adams retires

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J.P. Ricciardi’s first draft pick in his stint as the Toronto Blue Jays GM retired Thursday, as Triple-A Buffalo’s Russ Adams called it a career.

Adams was the 14th overall pick in the 2002 draft.  After three steady seasons in the minors, he debuted with the Blue Jays in 2004, hitting .306/.359/.528 with four homers in 78 at-bats.  That earned him a starting job in 2005.  He went on to hit a respectable .256/.325/.383 with eight homers and 63 RBI.  However, the Blue Jays soured on him defensively as the year went on.

As it turned out, those 139 major league games he played in as a rookie were more than he’d play in the rest of his career combined.  The Blue Jays completely gave up on him as a shortstop after a 2006 season in which he hit .219/.282/.319 in 90 games, and since he didn’t really impress at second or third either, he was unable to carve out a career as a utilityman.  He was last seen in the majors in eight games with the Jays in 2009.

This year was his second with the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.  He hit a solid .264/.444/.473 with 16 homers last year, but he was off to a poor .180/.296/.246 start in 72 at-bats this season.

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.