Uggla to the Braves? Would you believe Damon or Swisher?

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Ken Rosenthal ponders some possibilities for the Atlanta Braves, who are in the market for a corner outfielder.

First up: Dan Uggla, who could maybe be converted from second base.
Rosenthal says the Braves and Marlins have discussed it, that Atlanta’s
interest is only “mild,” and notes the difficulty involved with making
Uggla a left fielder. As in, he doesn’t want to be one.

Rosenthal suggests that the Braves could bring him in as a second
baseman and hope that Uggla realizes during spring training that he’s
not as good at second as Martin Prado is.  That would work if (a) Bobby
Cox had a second’s patience for that kind of nonsense, which he
doesn’t; (b) Cox doesn’t worship the ground Martin Prado walks on,
which he does; and (c) Dan Uggla was unlike almost every other player
in baseball history and really and truly wanted to be moved off of the
position at which he broke into the bigs.  Rosenthal, essentially
acknowledging the problems here, says that the Braves could ask
permission to talk to Uggla about a move before doing a deal. 

I’m not
going to hold my breath. The Braves have
gone down the convert-an-infielder-to-left path before with both
Chipper Jones and Kelly Johnson.  Neither Cox nor the players involved
liked that very much, so I don’t see them doing it for Dan Uggla, who
is a less-athletic version of both Jones and Johnson.

Outside of Uggla, Rosenthal wonders about Atlanta signing Johnny Damon or trading for Nick Swisher.

I could see Damon working if and only if he is in full
winter-2008-Bobby-Abreu mode as spring approaches and is willing to do
a one-year, sub-$10 million deal. And actually, the Braves would think
anything north of $6 million would be high.  Ultimately, while I think
that Damon has kind of screwed himself this offseason, I don’t think
he’ll end up being that desperate.

Swisher makes far less sense, in that I can’t see the Yankees taking
Derek Lowe for him, and Lowe is about the only player the Braves have
talked about shopping this year. Maybe they’d shop Javier Vazquez, but
the Yankees have been there and done that and probably don’t want him
back.  New York seems far more inclined to look at guys like Justin
Duchscherer and Ben Sheets than they are to take on a guy owed $45
million bucks over the next three years, and they’re wise to be so
inclined.

So it’s all fun talk — the stuff the hot stove is made of, even — but
I’d be pretty surprised if we see any of these guys wearing the
tomahawk next season.

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.