Manny Ramirez

MLB confirms Manny Ramirez banned from playing winter ball

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Confirming reports from earlier this week, MLB executive vice president of labor relations Rob Manfred told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that Manny Ramirez is indeed banned from participating in an MLB-sanctioned winter ball league.

Ramirez had planned to play in the Dominican Republic, but to do so he’d have to get permission from Bud Selig and … well, that ain’t happening after he retired in April rather than serve a 100-game suspension.

Ramirez previously told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that he was “really interested and enthusiastic” about playing winter ball and “it would be really sad if I’m not allowed to play.”

If he wants to continue playing at age 39 it’ll have to be in a lesser, non-MLB affiliated winter ball league or perhaps for an independent league team next season. There’s probably an opening on the Jose Canseco-managed Yuma Scorpions.

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.

Royals sign Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Royals have signed starter Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension.

Duffy was arbitration eligible this offseason and would’ve been a free agent next winter if he hadn’t signed the deal. Given his stuff he might’ve made a mint as a free agent, but he’s also been inconsistent at times and any pitcher is an injury away from losing a payday, making this a nice, lucrative bet for the lefty.

Duffy, 28, posted a 3.51 ERA and a 188/42 K/BB ratio across 179.2 innings in 2016.