Don Mattingly says no thanks to the Nationals. And he may regret it one day.

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Donnie Baseball was invited to come to D.C. to interview for the Nats job, but declined, says Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com.  The theory: that the Dodgers are working to formalize Mattingly’s heir-apparent status in Los Angeles, officially making him Joe Torre’s successor.

I’d like to see Mattingly get the Dodgers’ job, but these heir-apparent situations can be dicey. When an opening happens, teams like to — and should — consider all of the available options rather than lock themselves into a situation beforehand. What if Mattingly — or even his patron, Joe Torre — falls into disgrace before the end of next year?  What if some other, amazing candidate reveals himself in the meantime?  The Dodgers are locked in to some degree and, at the very least, will have to pay some money to undo what they previously formalized.

And  locking himself in as the heir apparent might not be the best thing for Mattingly either. After all, if there was one team that can’t necessarily plan for the future right now, it’s the Dodgers. What if the team has new owners at the end of next year? What if it’s bankrupt?  Isn’t there a non-trivial chance that L.A. could change its mind about all of this?  And if it does, will Mattingly be happy that he passed up an opportunity?

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).