Earlier this afternoon word began to circulate that the Tampa Bay Rays plan a “significant baseball-related announcement” today, and that the team’s owner, GM and manager will all be on hand for it. While many folks had a lot of fun speculating fantastical possibilities, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reports that the Rays are “deep into discussions with closer Grant Balfour. Suggesting that the announcement today will be a signing.
Balfour had a deal in place with the Orioles last month, but the team put the kibosh on it due to concerns about his wrist that they say came up during his physical. Balfour forcefully denied that anything was wrong with him.
Balfour posted a 2.35 ERA in his three years with Oakland while notching 64 saves. He pitched for the Rays from 2007 through 2010, so this would be a homecoming. And being in the same division as the Orioles, expect a lot of glares up to the GM’s box every time he closes one out in Baltimore.
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.