Domingo Santana Astros

Astros make sweeping roster changes, including calling up prospect Domingo Santana

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One day after making headlines for all the wrong reasons the Astros are adding a bunch of young talent to their roster, calling up prospects Domingo Santana, Enrique Hernandez, and Kevin Chapman. They also placed center fielder Dexter Fowler on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, demoted shortstop Jonathan Villar to Triple-A, and designated right-hander Jerome Williams for assignment.

That’s a whole bunch of changes, so let’s break it all down …

Santana is the big draw, as the 21-year-old outfielder hit .304 with 13 homers and an .885 OPS in 84 games at Triple-A after putting up similarly strong numbers at Double-A last season. He now joins Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and Josh Zeid on the Astros’ roster after all four players were acquired from the Phillies as prospects in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011. That is starting to look like one of the more lopsided deals in recent history.

Hernandez was the Astros’ sixth-round draft pick in 2009 and didn’t look like much of a prospect before this season, but the 22-year-old infielder/outfielder has had a breakout campaign by hitting .336 in 77 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

Chapman was very effective in his 25-game debut with the Astros last year, but was demoted back to the minors after struggling to begin this season and the 26-year-old left-hander returns after posting a 0.94 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 29 innings at Triple-A. His control has always been shaky, but Chapman has bat-missing raw stuff out of the bullpen.

Fowler was acquired from the Rockies this offseason and proved to be a fantastic addition atop the lineup before the injury, posting a .377 on-base percentage despite no longer calling Coors Field home. Villar has a ton of speed and remains in the Astros’ long-term plans at age 23, but he’s hit just .221 with a .618 OPS and ugly 139/39 K/BB ratio through 129 games as a big leaguer.

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)
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.