Cole Hamels

Report: Phillies preparing “substantial” offer for Cole Hamels

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According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Phillies are preparing a “substantial” offer for impending free agent Cole Hamels.

Exact details of the offer aren’t yet known, but Stark hears that the Phillies have had multiple internal discussions about whether to offer more than five guaranteed years. Previous reports have indicated that the club doesn’t have an issue with giving Hamels the yearly salary he covets, likely close to Cliff Lee’s $24 million AAV (average annual value), but they have been hesitant to go beyond five years.

The Phillies will almost certainly have to make a concession in years to have any chance to keep Hamels from testing the open market. He doesn’t turn 29 until December and is poised to land one of the richest contracts ever for a pitcher.

With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back and Roy Halladay expected to return soon, Stark hears the Phillies will wait up to two weeks before determining whether it’s time to sell off parts leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. By then, they should have a pretty good indication of whether Hamels is receptive to their offer.

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.