FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are in the process of finalizing a deal that would net them Bud Norris from Houston in return for outfielder L.J. Hoes and a second player. The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly says the second player is left-hander Josh Hader. The Astros will also get a competitive balance pick from the Orioles that should come in around 40th overall in next year’s draft.
Rosenthal says the Orioles beat out the Diamondbacks for Norris’s services.
Norris figures to bump Jason Hammel from a Baltimore rotation that also includes Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Scott Feldman. Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and a 90/43 K/BB ratio in 126 innings for the Astros this season. He’s making $3 million this year in his first year of arbitration and he’s under control through 2016.
Hoes, 23, was just called up by the Orioles this week after hitting .304/.406/.403 with three homers and seven steals in 365 at-bats for Triple-A Norfolk. The former second baseman doesn’t have the power one wants from a corner outfielder, but he might be a useful part-timer with his on-base skills. The Astros could stick him right on the major league roster after sending Justin Maxwell to Kansas City earlier this afternoon.
Hader, 19, was 3-6 with a 2.65 ERA and a 79/42 K/BB ratio in 85 innings for low Single-A Delmarva this season. He was a 19th-round pick last year, and MLB.com rated him as the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect at midseason.
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.