Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds

Reds “optimistic” about working out new contract with closer Francisco Cordero

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The Reds appear to be making quick progress in contract talks with closer Francisco Cordero.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer this afternoon that he is “optimistic” the two sides will be able to work out a new deal in lieu of Cordero’s $12 million club option for 2012. They are currently in talks about a potential two-year deal.

“We’re just waiting more for them to get back to us. I’m more optimistic something will get done there in the near future just because we’ve made more progress.”

Cordero, 36, has a 2.49 ERA, 36 saves and a 42/18 K/BB ratio over 68 2/3 innings this season. While he has been excellent on the surface, his strikeout rate (5.50 K/9) and fastball velocity (93 mph, down from 95.1 mph career) have reached career-lows.

It appears Cordero is reaching the end, but with Aroldis Chapman expected to get another shot as a starting pitcher and Nick Masset regressing this season, it’s at least defensible to being him back on a two-year deal at a lesser annual salary.

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.