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International scouting director Craig Shipley leaves Red Sox

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General manager Ben Cherington announced yesterday that the Red Sox and international scouting director Craig Shipley are parting ways after the former big leaguer spent nine years in the organization.

Last February the Red Sox promoted Shipley to senior vice president of player personnel and international scouting and at various points during his time with the team he’s been mentioned as a possible GM down the road, but his status clearly changed significantly once Theo Epstein left.

Cherington predictably didn’t shed much light on the reasons for Shipley’s departure, but did tell Ian Browne of MLB.com:

He’s someone that I have great respect for. He’s a really good evaluator, passionate baseball guy. Through the course of conversations with him, it just became clear to me that it might be time for a fresh start. So, that’s the direction we’re going. I wish him nothing but the best.

Shipley played a big part in the Red Sox signing Japanese pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima, and Alex Speier of WEEI.com writes that he “was an influential voice in pushing ahead to make the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, even at the cost of star prospect Hanley Ramirez and big league starter Anibal Sanchez.”

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.