Ryan Madson

Red Sox sitting pretty in search for new closer

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Here’s a list of the closers still available in free agency:

Ryan Madson
Francisco Rodriguez
Francisco Cordero
Brad Lidge
Frank Francisco

And following Toronto’s acquisition of Sergio Santos, here’s a list of all of the teams truly interested in spending significant dollars on a closer:

The Boston Red Sox

Really, that’s it. The Angels have the money to spend on a top reliever, but they already have a very promising ninth-inning guy in Jordan Walden. The Reds, Mets, Orioles and Padres are more interested in bargain hunting then spending big money on a reliever.

We know the Red Sox are interested in Oakland’s Andrew Bailey and that they’ve at least discussed Huston Street with the Rockies, but why go that route when a couple of these relievers are going to hit the bargain bin. The Red Sox might well end up getting Madson for Heath Bell money (three years, $27 million) or Rodriguez for $16 million over two years. Sure, they’d take Bailey over K-Rod all things being equal, but at the price of a couple of top prospects, things are far from equal.

My guess is that the Angels will be involved with Madson, so maybe he’ll still get his four-year deal. But that’s far from a certainty. The Reds could scrape up the money for K-Rod or Cordero, but they’re at least as likely to trade for a closer candidate. Francisco might want to seriously think about accepting that arbitration offer from the Jays, even though he’d be a setup man in Toronto. It’s doubtful he’ll do better elsewhere.

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.