Sadaharu Oh, Ichiro Suzuki

Japan threatens boycott of World Baseball Classic

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Unsatisfied with its current share of World Baseball Classic revenues, two-time champion Japan is threatening to sit out the 2013 event, Reuters reports.

“We are not saying we don’t want to take part,” stated union president Takahiro Arai. “But we will not be able to compete under the current conditions, which are unfair.”

Japan won both the inaugural 2006 and the 2009 World Baseball Classics, but the players took home only 13 percent of the revenue generated from the last tournament.  MLB and its players received 66 percent of the revenue, so there’d clearly seem to be some room for negotiation here.

Japan’s club owners are also looking for a better deal with MLB.

The 2013 tournament is expected to expand from 16 teams to 28 teams, with new additions like Great Britain, France, Brazil and New Zealand.  There will be a play-in round in Fall 2012 in which 16 teams will compete for four spots.  The four winners will join the 12 automatic qualifiers — the U.S., Japan, the Dominican Republic and others — in a tournament set for March 2013.

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.