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Angels calling up prospect Garrett Richards to take over Joel Pineiro’s rotation spot

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Garrett Richards, not Hisanori Takahashi, will take over for the struggling Joel Pineiro in the Angels’ rotation, according to Keith Law of ESPN.com.

Reports over the weekend suggested the Angels weren’t all that enthused about any of their potential replacements for Pineiro, pondering various call-ups in addition to moving Takahashi from the bullpen to the rotation, but instead they’ll go with the most talented and inexperienced option.

Selected with the 42nd overall pick in the 2009 draft, Richards will be making the jump from Double-A, where the 23-year-old right-hander had a 3.06 ERA and 100/40 K/BB ratio in 141 innings.

He projects as a future mid-rotation starter and has certainly impressed at Double-A, but his strikeout rate of 6.4 per nine innings showed less dominance than the shiny ERA and 12-2 record would suggest and his control has been merely decent.

Richards almost can’t help but be an improvement over Pineiro’s recent performance, but Pineiro had a 3.88 ERA in 37 starts for the Angels prior to imploding within the past few weeks and it’ll be tough for the rookie to match those numbers right away.

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.