UPDATE: It’s a done deal, complete with the team’s plans for his playing time:
Bonus fun: he chose number 16 because he was a big Doc Gooden fan back in the day.
4PM: One would have thought that when the Houston Astros, the worst team in baseball, had no more use for Rick Ankiel that his career might be over. But never underestimate the power of specialization. For while the Astros are the worst overall team, the Mets may very well have the very worst outfield. And that, my friends, presents an opportunity for Mr. Ankiel.
Jon Heyman reports that the Mets are “in talks on a deal” for Ankiel, though it is not known if it’s serious or imminent or whatever.
Ankiel was hitting a paltry .194 with a .234 on-base percentage and had a miserable 35/3 K/BB ratio in 65 plate appearances when Houston released him. He did have five homers, though, so maybe he can find a place on the Mets.
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.
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.