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Report: Mariners agree to one-year deal with left-hander Joe Saunders

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UPDATE: The deal is worth between $5-7 million and includes an option for 2014, according to Scott Boeck of USA Today.

7:46 PM: This isn’t quite on the level of the big Felix Hernandez news, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners have signed left-hander Joe Saunders to a one-year contract, pending a physical. No word yet on the terms involved.

Saunders was reportedly holding out for a multi-year deal this offseason, but his market clearly didn’t develop as hoped. The Orioles and Twins were also mentioned as possible landing spots in recent weeks, but apparently the Mariners had the best offer on the table.

Saunders owns a 4.15 ERA over eight seasons in the majors, including a 4.07 ERA and 112/39 K/BB ratio over 174 2/3 innings last season between the Diamondbacks and Orioles. The 31-year-old will essentially fill the spot of fellow southpaw Jason Vargas, who was traded to the Angels earlier this winter in the Kendrys Morales deal.

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.