UPDATE: Done deal, reports Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Kosuke Fukudome is an Indian.
11:04: Multiple sources are now reporting that the Tribe would send two minor leaguers, as yet unidentified, put a pitcher and a position player to Chicago. It’s also being reported that the Cubs will pick up all but $775,000 of the $4.5 million Fukudome is still owed for 2011. A deal is expected to be done before game time tonight.
10:01 AM: Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Indians are in “serious talks” for Cubs’ outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Danny Knobler says “it’s very close to happening.”
Lots of barriers to something happening here. For one thing, money, in that Fukudome is owed over $4 million for the rest of the year and the Indians aren’t the habit of adding salary. For another thing, Fukudome has a no-trade clause. It’s limited, but I’m guessing one could make a lot of money betting on things like “a given player’s no-trade clause includes Cleveland.” Finally, his contract contains a clause that prohibits teams from offering him arbitration, so the Tribe won’t be able to get picks for him. Of course, as was the case with Carlos Beltran, it’s an open question as whether offering him arbitration would have made sense anyway.
If they can get past all of that — and from the sound of it, they’re close to doing that — adding Fukudome to the Indians wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. He has gotten on base at a decent clip this year, and given how thin the Indians’ outfield is right now, he could be useful.
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.
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.