Tyler Skaggs

Tyler Skaggs one of three added to Futures Game rosters

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Two callups and an injury have opened up places in the Futures Game. Now we know who will be stepping in.

Fellow Diamondbacks prospect Tyler Skaggs will replace Trevor Bauer as a pitcher on the U.S. team. While now quite as highly regarded as his former teammate at Double-A Mobile, Skaggs does rate as one of the game’s 15- or 20-best pitching prospects. The 20-year-old lefty is 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA and a 71/21 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 innings in the Southern League this year. The Diamondbacks acquired him from the Angels two years ago in the Dan Haren trade. It will be his second straight Futures Game appearance.

Replacing the Rockies’ Edwar Cabrera as a pitcher for the World team is Angels right-hander Ariel Pena. The 22-year-old Pena is 5-4 with a 2.94 ERA and an 86/34 K/BB ratio in 88 2/3 innings for Double-A Arkansas.  Some viewed him as a relief prospect entering the season, but he’s made gains with his command, particularly of late, and he might be a mid-rotation guy for the Halos in a couple of years.

Tigers catcher Rob Brantly is the other addition to the U.S. team. He takes the place of the Jays’ Travis d’Arnaud, who suffered a torn PCL in his knee while playing for Triple-A Las Vegas this week. Brantly, 22, has hit .303/.350/.417 between Double- and Triple-A this year, though he has struggled since his promotion. The Tigers likely jumped at the chance to showcase him; while  he’s a decent prospect with a chance to be a starting catcher, he’s probably not going to fit in Detroit in any capacity, since he and Alex Avila are both left-handed hitters.

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.