Sifting through the rumors: Blue Jays – Halladay, Overbay and Bradley

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*The Yankees are expected to inquire about Roy Halladay, and new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said trading within the AL East will “never be a stumbling block” for him.
The Red Sox figure to get back into the chase for Halladay is that’s the case. The Phillies still have the young talent to pull off a Halladay acquisition, though they may run into budget issues at some point. Also, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal believes the Angels could again target Halladay, particularly if they fail to re-sign free agent John Lackey.
It makes all kinds of sense for the Jays to trade Halladay now. They’re big long shots for 2010 anyway, and there may well be more quality starters available at the trade deadline next year than there are in free agency right now. With Tim Hudson out of the mix, there’s a huge drop-off from John Lackey to Randy Wolf, Rich Harden and the rest of the free agent options.
The Yankees’ chances of landing Halladay would likely hinge on their willingness to part with Jesus Montero, who may well be the second biggest offensive talent in the minors behind Atlanta’s Jason Heyward. One of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes would likely have to be involved as well. Hughes has the greater value of the two at this point, and it’s highly unlikely that the Bombers would part with both he and Montero. The packages that make the most sense are Chamberlain and Montero or Hughes plus outfielder Austin Jackson.
The Red Sox would probably be willing to part with Clay Buchholz if it would allow them to keep both Casey Kelly and Daniel Bard. The Jays, though, would likely insist on acquiring two of the three, particularly since most of the rest of Boston’s intriguing prospects are in the low minors. One exception is outfielder Josh Reddick, who could be positioned as a potential long-term replacement for Alex Rios.
The Jays would want three from the Phillies big four: J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor. The Angels have less talent to part with than usual, though the Jays would presumably be very interested in Erick Aybar if he was made available. Mike Napoli, Brandon Wood and right-hander Jordan Walden would also be brought up in talks.
*Lyle Overbay, who was nearly traded back to Arizona for Chris Snyder last week is now a possibility for Seattle after the Mariners were turned down by their own free agent, Russell Branyan.
Perhaps this is nothing more than the Mariners trying to put some heat on Branyan, who is holding out for a two-year deal. Overbay’s name is getting kicked around everywhere else, so if the Mariners could figure that throwing their hat into the ring will cause Branyan to reconsider their offer of one year and an option.
If there’s actually something to the rumor, then outfielder Michael Saunders and infielder Matt Tuiasosopo could be possible returns for Overbay, who will earn $7 million next year and then become a free agent. The idea of going year to year with their first baseman is attractive to Seattle, since prospect Mike Carp isn’t far away. The Blue Jays are open to moving Overbay because they’re interested in installing Adam Lind at first base.
*The Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott believes the Jays still have some interest in Milton Bradley and repeats the Bradley-Lyle Overbay-Luis Castillo rumor that made the rounds on Monday.
Bradley makes an awful lot of sense for the Jays if the Cubs are willing to pay a chunk of the $21 million he’s owed over the next two years. Bradley is being viewed as a liability because of that salary and maybe he is, but he just led the entire American League in OPS with the Rangers in 2008. With Overbay out of the picture, the Blue Jays would have the option of using him as a full-time DH or rotating him into the outfield when he’s healthy. There’s probably nothing to the three-team proposal involving the Mets, but Bradley is there for the taking if the Jays want him.

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.