Hunter Pence Reuters

Hunter Pence gets $13.8 million to avoid arbitration with Giants

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Shortly after the season ended there was some speculation that the Giants would non-tender Hunter Pence rather than pay him a big salary via arbitration following a down year.

General manager Brian Sabean quickly shot that notion down, making it clear he wanted Pence back in 2013, and now we see the price tag: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Pence and the Giants have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $13.8 million deal.

That means the Giants feared he’d get more than that via an actual arbitration hearing and as crazy as that sounds it was very possible considering Pence was paid $10.4 million last season and … well, that’s just how arbitration works.

Of course, there was nothing forcing the Giants to keep Pence after he hit just .253 with a .319 on-base percentage and .425 slugging percentage in 160 games last year and it’s hard to imagine him getting $13.8 million per season on the open market. San Francisco’s commitment is only one season, which is a key factor, but even if he bounces back to pre-2012 production (.293 AVG, .825 OPS from 2009-2011) it’s still debatable if Pence is worth that money. He’ll be a free agent next offseason.

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.