Chris Iannetta

Indians, Pirates asking about Rockies’ Chris Iannetta

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Cleveland and Pittsburgh are among a number of teams to have asked Colorado about catcher Chris Iannetta, according to FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

Iannetta’s name has come up in rumors numerous times over the last couple of years, largely because so many are convinced that the Rockies don’t value his contributions properly.  They’ve been guilty of sitting him behind seemingly inferior catchers in Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo, but they also gave him a three-year, $8.35 million deal prior to 2010 that showed a commitment to him.

Much of the old Iannetta speculation centered on the Red Sox, since not only is Iannetta a Rhode Island native, but his offensive contributions, which come mostly in the form of homers and walks, are supposed to be especially appreciated by the so-called Moneyball teams.

The Red Sox, though, are happy with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek at the moment and aren’t hunting for catching help.

The Pirates have a big need at catcher with both Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit on the shelf.  The Indians have Carlos Santana behind the plate, but they don’t mind using him at first base.  If they got Iannetta, they’d probably give him most of the starts behind the plate, with Santana playing first base and serving as a DH against left-handers.

Playing pretty regularly this year, Iannetta is hitting .224/.376/.412 with 10 homers and 36 RBI in 228 at-bats.   Brian McCann is the only regular catcher with a better on-base percentage and McCann, Ramon Hernandez, Alex Avila and Miguel Montero are the only starting catchers with superior OPSs.

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.