Kansas City Royals v Colorado Rockies

Wilson Betemit expected to be Orioles’ designated hitter, gets two-year deal worth $3 million

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Wilson Betemit’s two-year contract with the Orioles is worth $3 million in guaranteed money and could be worth up to $6 million if his 2014 option vests based on playing time, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

Betemit has bounced around a ton over the past few years, so his agent did very well to secure him a multi-year commitment, but the price tag is certainly reasonable enough for the Orioles and at age 30 he should stave off a major decline for a while.

Betemit is expected to be the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and that might seem like a stretch at first glance, but he’s hit a combined .290 with 21 homers and an .838 OPS in 181 games during the past two seasons. His career has been limited by the lack of a clear home defensively, but when given a chance for regular playing time Betemit has almost always hit well and at the very least the switch-hitter would be a nice part-time player for $1.5 million per season.

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)
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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.