Ruben Amaro Jr.

GM on Phillies’ trade deadline plans: “You will not see a major move this year”

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General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday that he has no plans to pick up a big bat before the July 31 trade deadline, telling Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia: “You will not see a major move this year.”

Philadelphia has MLB’s best record at 37-25, putting the Phillies on pace for 97 wins, but the lineup ranks just eighth among NL teams in runs and Ryan Howard (.803) and Shane Victorino (.812) are the only regulars to top a .750 OPS.

Charlie Manuel has hinted that he’d like to see the Phillies bring in some offensive help, saying: “I think there has to be a cutoff somewhere.” However, so far at least Amaro is showing a lot more patience:

Would I love to see this team perform at a higher level? Yes. And I still believe they will. Because they can hit. They can do things. You will not see a major move this year. I don’t think we need it. Right now, I’m happy with the guys we’ve got and I’m hoping they get us to the dance. This is a good team that is not playing as good as it is.

Of course, as Salisbury notes Amaro’s confidence in veteran hitters turning things around isn’t the only factor at play, as the Phillies’ current $175 million payroll is the second-highest in baseball and just short of the luxury tax threshold. Or as Amaro put it: “For $170 million-plus, we should be good enough to be a World Series contender.”

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.