UPDATE II: Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston was told by a Red Sox official that they did not post a bid for Nakajima. That makes three denials, if you include the Giants and Brewers. Does anybody want this guy? We’ll soon find out.
UPDATE: Nothing confirmed yet, but Sponichi indicates that the Red Sox may have the top bid for Nakajima. We should know officially within the next 24 hours.
12:15 PM: Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along word from the Japanese media that the Seibu Lions will accept the highest bid for Hiroyuki Nakajima and that an official announcement is expected tomorrow.
If the highest bid is indeed accepted, the winning team will be granted an exclusive 30-day negotiating window to agree on a contract.
No word on who may have submitted a bid, but the Giants and Brewers have been ruled out. Mets manager Terry Collins hinted last night that he would love to have Nakajima in his lineup, though that was likely some wishful thinking on his part after losing shortstop Jose Reyes to the Marlins.
Nakajima, a 29-year-old shortstop, is a .302 career hitter in Japan and has surpassed at least 16 home runs and 15 stolen bases in each of the last four seasons. He batted .297/.354/.433 with 16 home runs, 100 RBI and 21 stolen bases this past season.
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.