Bud Selig

Report: MLB could tax low-spending clubs

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This tweet comes from Jayson Stark, who has done a great job of covering the soon-to-be-announced CBA for ESPN.com:

There have been lots of rumblings there will also be a tax on teams that spend too little on big-league payroll. Looking forward to details

There are none of those available yet, so what kind of floor is being talked about is unclear. In 2011, one team opened with a sub-$40 million payroll (Kansas City), while four more came in at under $50 million (Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cleveland).

On the one hand, it certainly seems like a good idea for MLB to try to do something to prevent teams with super-low payrolls from making a profit based mostly on revenue-sharing funds. But one would think actually withholding those revenue-sharing funds in certain cases would make more sense than a tax.

But perhaps the best way for the league to do this would be to base things on total expenditures and not big-league payroll. Much to their credit, teams like the Royals and Pirates have been spending big in the draft in recent years, something that makes much more sense for them than bringing in an extra big-league veteran or two. However, with MLB’s new attempt to curb draft spending, there probably won’t be as much variance between the teams in that category than there has been in the recent past.

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)
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.