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John Maffei explains why he left Yasiel Puig off his NL ROY ballot

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It’s that time of year again. Every once in a while, we’ll see a member of the BBWAA cast a vote for a hometown player for an award while a more deserving player is snubbed. It happened tonight with the National League Rookie of the Year Award, as John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune was the only voter to leave Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig off his ballot.

Maffei gave a first-place vote to Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who went on to win the award. He then voted Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller second, citing his performance in a pennant race. Per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, here’s Maffei’s logic behind the decision to go with Padres second baseman Jeff Gyorko over Puig for third place:

Maffei said he realized Puig would finish strongly in the voting. He said his third-place vote was not about rejecting Puig but about rewarding Gyorko.

“A second baseman hit 23 home runs and played great defense,” Maffei said. “Maybe Puig’s antics were in the back of my mind, but I really think the guy [Gyorko] deserved a third-place vote. I just felt he deserved it, not that Puig didn’t.”

Gyorko got two votes for third place, the other from Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona.

You have to love the line about Puig’s “antics.” “Maybe” it was a factor? Say no more.

I can’t say I agree with Maffei’s logic, but at least he isn’t hiding from criticism. Fortunately, his vote didn’t have a significant impact on the outcome.

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.