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Baseball America tells the Jairo Beras story

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Baseball America’s Ben Badler has a must-read breakdown on the whole Jairo Beras saga. Beras, as you may remember, changed his date of birth before signing a $4.5 million deal with the Rangers in February. MLB initially declined to approve the contract, but did so in July, a move that left several other teams unhappy.

Badler notes that neither the Rangers nor Beras received any real punishment over the affair. Beras technically was suspended for a year, but it’ll hardly have any effect on him:

Beras will be allowed to work out at the Rangers’ Dominican academy and play in an unofficial league for July 2 signings over the summer. Then he will go to Arizona for instructional league, participate in the team’s Dominican winter program and go back to Arizona for spring training. He can play in spring training games and extended spring training games.

What Beras won’t be able to do is play in official games during the first half of next season, but he wasn’t going to do that anyway; as a (perhaps) soon-to-be 18-year-old, he was always destined to play in the short-season leagues that begin at the end of June.

Badler also has quotes from MLB’s Rob Manfred, defending the league’s eventual decision to approve the contract, and from executives displeased with the way the whole thing came down. It’s a well researched piece on a pretty convoluted situation.

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)
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.