Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants

Giants re-sign Tim Lincecum to two-year, $35 million contract

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The Giants went above and beyond to keep another star on Tuesday, re-signing Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million contract that will result in him forgoing free agency.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Alex Pavlovic was the first to confirm the dollars.

It’s still a paycut for Lincecum, who made $18 million in 2012 and $22 million this year under the terms of a two-year contract that took him through his final arbitration years. Of course, he signed that deal coming off a fourth straight season in which he made the All-Star team, received Cy Young votes and struck out at least 220 batters. He’s done none of those things the last two years.

In fact, Lincecum has been one of the game’s worst starters the last two years.  Of the 88 pitchers to qualify for the ERA title in 2012, Lincecum finished dead last in ERA+, which accounts for pitcher friendly AT&T Park.  In 2013, he finished 77th of the 81 to qualify. His strikeout rate remains quite strong, but with his velocity diminished, he’s giving up more hits and homers than ever before.

Providing some hope for the future is that Lincecum’s peripherals have been better than his ERAs the last two years. Still, unless some velocity comes back, he’s probably not going to be anything close to a $17.5 million-per-year pitcher these next two seasons. Given that the Giants do play in such a pitcher friendly ballpark and that they’ve had success with reclamation projects under Dave Righetti’s watch, it’s hard not to think there would have been much better ways to spend all this money.

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.