General manager Billy Beane and agent Matt Sosnick both agree that free agent Josh Willingham is unlikely to re-sign with the A’s.
Sosnick told Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News that Willingham will probably be looking for a three-year contract and “I just don’t think that’s the position the A’s are in right now.”
Beane described the A’s as being “in wait-and-see mode” regarding Willingham and their other free agents, in part because he’s waiting to hear back from MLB regarding a potential new ballpark in San Jose. However, because Willingham is a Type A free agent and the A’s want draft picks if he signs elsewhere Beane will definitely offer him arbitration.
Willingham stands out as one of the few impact bats in a weak year for free agent corner outfielders, posting an OPS above .800 for the sixth straight season despite a modest .246 batting average. Many teams would love to add Willingham’s right-handed bat coming off a 29-homer season, but at age 33 a three-year contract from a team that also has to give up a draft pick might be wishful thinking.
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.