Are the Phillies still pursuing Roy Halladay?

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Asked yesterday what the Phillies will be looking to upgrade this offseason general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said: “Third base, bullpen, bench.”
Despite the lack of “rotation” on that list Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer spoke to “more than one baseball official with knowledge of the Phillies’ offseason plan” who said that “the team remains very much in the picture to acquire” Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays.
Philadelphia made a midseason run at Halladay before balking at then-general manager J.P. Ricciardi’s sky-high asking price, instead acquiring Cliff Lee from Cleveland for a handful of non-elite prospects. Committing another package of prospects and a huge chunk of the payroll to a second No. 1 starter seems unlikely, but “one rival front-office man” who spoke to Salisbury seems to think that it’s possible.
Amaro reportedly turned down Ricciardi’s request for J.A. Happ and prospects Kyle Drabek, Domonic Brown, and Anthony Gose. Parting with that quartet in addition to the prospects already shipped to the Indians for Lee would completely wipe out the Phillies’ farm system, but for the most part their offensive core should be intact for the long haul and if they could somehow get Lee and Halladay signed to long-term deals … well, they would be pretty scary for the near future.

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.