cliff lee getty

Report: Dodgers claimed Cliff Lee on waivers

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6:20 p.m. EDT Update: FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi reports that the Dodgers were awarded the claim on Lee, but he added that any sort of deal remains unlikely.

The Dodgers as the claiming team make a lot of sense. They were expected to put in a big bid for Cole Hamels this winter, a route that is no longer open to them now that Hamels has signed an extension with the Phillies.

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It doesn’t mean anything is going to happen — in fact, it probably makes it less likely that something is going to happen — but Cliff Lee has been claimed on waivers, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports.

In a normal case, the claim would give the Phillies three options: to pull the player back, to try to work out a trade with the claiming team or to simply let the player go on waivers. Lee’s no-trade clause, however, applies to a waiver claim just as it would a deal; if the team that claimed him is one of the 21 teams Lee has on the no-trade, then the Phillies wouldn’t be able to let him go without his permission.

Since the Phillies can now deal with just one team instead of potentially multiple suitors, it’d seem to make a Lee deal less likely. Of course, if they want out of his contract badly enough, they could just let him go, assuming the team isn’t on his no-trade, but indications before the deadline were that they wanted significant talent back in return for Lee.

Lee is due about $7 million over the rest of this year, $25 million each of the next three years and then $27.5 million or a $12.5 million buyout in 2016, so the team that claimed him has some guts. He currently stands to be baseball’s highest-paid pitcher from 2013-15.

Update: The first of the denials is in. A source told WEEI’s Rob Bradford that the Red Sox are not the claiming team.

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.