Brett Myers

As if there was any doubt that the Astros were going to trade Brett Myers

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It was pretty clever of Jeff Luhnow to turn Brett Myers into a closer this year, so as to up his trade value at the deadline (everyone wants bullpen help).  But to do that, he had to rework Myers’ vesting option language in his contract from one appropriate for a starter to one appropriate for a reliever.

Ken Rosenthal reports that the new vesting option makes it almost certain that Myers is going to go someplace at the deadline, and possibly more cheaply than anticipated:

The Astros reworked Myers’ vesting option when they converted him from a starter to closer in spring training. Under his initial deal, he needed to make only 25 starts and not be on the DL at the end of the season to guarantee his $10 million option for 2013.

The exact number of games that Myers needs to finish for his option to vest under the reworked terms is not known, but the degree of difficulty is comparable to what it was for him as a starter, according to a major-league source. The best estimate, then, is that the number is between 40 and 50.

And as Rosenthal notes, Myers is on pace to finish 57 games.  This means that, like K-Rod last year, Myers likely has setup man duties in his future on a contender so no one will have to pay that unit* to him in 2013.

*I like to use the term “unit” to refer to $10 million. I was told by a former client that this is what the newly rich — particularly Texas oilmen of the 1970s — called $10 million anyway. As in “I got my first unit in 1977, right after we struck on that land east of Fort Stockton …” and so forth.  I want to believe this is true, though I sometimes suspect I was being put on.

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.