Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir and the Indians have discussed a new contract

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The Indians and Scott Kazmir have expressed mutual interest in continuing their relationship, reports Chris Assenheimer of the Chronicle-Telegram. Kazmir has been a boon to the Indians’ pitching staff, finishing the season with a 4.04 ERA in 158 innings spanning 29 starts. The lefty averaged about a strikeout per inning pitched and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 3.5 to one.

It is especially impressive that Kazmir was on his way out of baseball, spending the 2012 season with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent league. In 64 innings with the Skeeters, he posted a 5.34 ERA with mediocre strikeout and walk rates.

Kazmir will turn 30 years old in January, which is a bit shocking considering everything he has experienced in his career already. As a top prospect in the Mets’ system, Kazmir was involved in one of the more controversial trades of the 2000’s, going to the Rays in the Victor Zambrano trade. With the Rays, Kazmir had immense success, helping them reach the World Series in 2008, where they lost to the Phillies. From 2005-08, he had a 3.51 ERA. In August 2009, the Rays sent him to the Angels, capitalizing on the lefty’s value before he hit free agency. Kazmir wasn’t the same. From 2009-11, he posted a 5.51 ERA. The Indians are hoping the worst is behind Kazmir and he can provide them a few years of reliable service in the latest chapter of his career.

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.