Jonathan Papelbon

Ruben Amaro is still shocked no one wants Jonathan Papelbon

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The Phillies had a surfeit of expendable players that were perfect for other teams, but the club stood pat as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline passed. GM Ruben Amaro said other GM’s were overvaluing prospects, and that his demands for his own players were reasonable.

With the August 31 waiver deadline just a week away, Amaro is still shocked he hasn’t been able to arrive at a deal, particularly for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon has been among the game’s best closers this season, sporting a 1.49 ERA with 31 saves, but he is owed $13 million 2015 and is likely to have his $13 million option for 2016 vest as well. That’s why Papelbon passed through waivers. Well, that and his still-declining velocity and a strikeout rate near a career-low. And also, he’s 33 years old. And also, Papelbon has said he only wants to close if he is moved anywhere else. And also, he said he wants to play for a winner.

Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Amaro also defended the closer’s abrasive personality and blunt comments, saying, “He gets ticked because we’re not winning. I don’t blame him.”

Looks like the Phillies might be stuck with Papelbon for a while, but they’ll try to find a taker in the off-season. Amaro has said he’s willing to include cash in a trade to move Papelbon elsewhere.

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.