The original plan called for Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues for a couple of days while Darwin Barney was away on paternity leave, but his big game against the Reds this afternoon has changed things.
Making his major league debut, Alcantara went 4-for-5 with three RBI and finished a home run shy of the cycle. The 22-year-old struck out in his first major league at-bat, but he hit a sacrifice fly in his next plate appearance and followed that up with a two-run double, two infield singles, and a triple. The Cubs optioned today’s starter, Kyle Hendricks, down the minors after the game, which means that Alcantara will stick around at least through the weekend.
Much has been made about the Cubs’ glut of offensive prospects, but Alcantara has managed to fly under the radar despite putting up some big numbers in the minors. He was batting .307/.353/.537 with 46 extra-base hits (including 10 home runs), 41 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 89 games with Triple-A Iowa prior to his call-up. It shouldn’t be long before he takes over second base for good.
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.