The Rangers are working hard to get Roy Oswalt

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UPDATE:  Now the Fort Worth Star-Telegrams is calling applesauce on my report.  GM Jon Dainels didn’t directly deny it, but he did say “you can probably figure this one out,” suggesting that it’s not happening.

And as I said before, there is a difference between a deal happening and one being discussed. I stand by my report that the Astros and Rangers have talked about a deal and got fairly far along in the process. I also acknowledge — as I did earlier — that making such a deal would be outrageously difficult given the Rangers’ financial constraints.

For those of you calling the whole thing into question, I had some things to say in the comments with respect to my philosophy about dealing in the trade rumors game. Short version: sometimes people are wrong, sometimes people are right. Quite often there’s no telling who was wrong and who was right (e.g an the lack of an Oswalt-to-the-Rangers trade does not debunk my report that there were talks of one).

My view is that I pass on what I hear from credible sources (and my source for the Oswalt report is credible), attempt to give enough context to the information I’ve received to where people can at least attempt to judge it on its merits and do my best not to oversell what I’m hearing, which is what I’ve done here.  Finally, if things turn out to be wrong, I try to do my best to get the right information out there, which is also what I’ve done here.

5:33 P.M:  Buster Olney tweets that he’s spoken with a highly placed Rangers source and that there’s “nothing to it.” Meaning my report.  I’ll obviously keep looking into it, but at this point we’ve certainly got to say there are conflicting reports.

4:52 P.M.: A major league source is telling me that the Rangers have been talking to the Astros about Roy Oswalt and that the teams are “getting closer” to having a deal in place.  It’s not yet clear which player(s) would be coming back from Texas to Houston, but my understanding is that the live bodies part of the deal is more or less agreed to.

But in place is not the same thing as done: the sticking point: the Rangers are trying to convince Major League Baseball — who holds the purse strings until the sale of the Rangers is complete — to allow them to take on Oswalt’s salary.

It’s also unclear — but I’m sure some of my bankruptcy expert readers could tell me — if the bankruptcy court would have to give approval for the Rangers to take on new obligations in such a deal.  On the one hand Oswalt’s salary represents a boatload of money and the Rangers are in bankruptcy. On the other hand, a bankruptcy court tends not to oversee the normal hiring and firing of employees of bankrupt companies that are otherwise going concerns.

Whether it’s just MLB or MLB+bankruptcy court signoff that is required, such a deal will take some serious begging. As everyone knows, Oswalt is owed pro-rate $15 million this year, $16 million next year and a $2 million buyout if his 2012 option — which is also worth $16 million — isn’t picked up.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball currently has a line of credit out to the Rangers just so they can cover expenses on the team. A team that is in bankruptcy, by the way.

So yes, there are a lot of “ifs” here at the moment. But unlike the multiple reports we’ve seen in the past several days regarding where Roy Oswalt would theoretically allow himself to be traded, we know right now that there are at least two teams — the Rangers and the Astros — who would like to see him pitching in the Dallas Metroplex, complicated financial considerations willing.

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.