Link-O-Rama: Brewers, Dodgers looking at Padilla?

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* Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Dodgers and Brewers are “kicking the tires” on Vicente Padilla, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers.
* Picking up Russell Branyan on the cheap was one of rookie Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik’s first moves and has turned out brilliantly, as the perennial part-time player has hit .255/.354/.535 with 27 homers through 99 games in a full-time role. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes that the Mariners face a decision on whether to re-sign Branyan now that his value is rising.
* Bill Chastain of MLB.com has a very interesting article about the Rays allowing B.J. Upton to play the shallowest center field in all of baseball.
* Now that he’s starting to hit better and play more Magglio Ordonez is closing in on the 540 plate appearances required to trigger his $18 million option for next season. Obviously the Tigers want to avoid paying him that much in 2010, but benching him down the stretch in a pennant race may prove tricky.
* Daniel Herrera is 5-foot-6 on a good day and is one of the few pitchers to regularly throw a screwball, so it’s easy to see why he’s among my favorite players.

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.