The Angels are back in the Halladay chase

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Last year the Angels balked when the Jays demanded either Jered Weaver or Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar and prospect Peter Bourjos for Roy Halladay.  I would have balked too, that’s way too steep.  Now, however, it appears that the Jays are being more reasonable, and that may get the Angels back in the game:

A trade for Halladay this winter is expected to cost the Angels a young starter — Weaver, Saunders or Ervin Santana — but new Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopolous appears willing to make a deal that does not include Aybar, who hit .312 with five home runs and 58 runs batted in and played Gold Glove-caliber defense this season.

Unlike Ricciardi, Anthopolous reportedly is willing to allow teams a window to sign Halladay to a contract extension, which makes the pitcher, who will be paid $15.75 million in 2010, an even more attractive trade target.

My friend Sam Miller at the OC Register explains why any deal that includes Erick Aybar would be a bad one for the Angels. the upshot: Aybar is young, cheap and valuable. Halladay is older, expensive and valuable.  Making that deal plus adding in a top prospect and a good starting pitcher and the Angels are making a big mistake.

But a deal short of Aybar?  Interesting.  Interesting indeed.

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.