With Lee deal in motion, all eyes turn to Jayson Werth

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George A. King of the New York Post reports that the Yankees, Red
Sox and Rays have told the Phillies that they would be interested in
acquiring Jayson Werth.

We talked about the Phillies’ rationale for trading Werth yesterday, but the interest on the part of the AL East teams is far more compelling given this Cliff Lee business.

For the Yankees, it’s a way of solidifying the lineup while solving their too-many-starting-pitchers problem.  Werth could DH. Or he could take over in right, Swisher could move to left and Gardner could become baseball’s best bench player. Or Swisher could DH. They’re the Yankees. They tend to figure out what to do with excess.

For the Rays and Red Sox it would be more a matter of survival. The Red Sox are taking on all kinds of water right now and could obviously use a big outfield bat to help cover for all of those injuries. The Rays have offensive woes of their own, and if the Yankees get Lee, they’ll need to do something to counter the move.

Like I said yesterday: it would take some serious balls for the Phillies to trade Werth and plug in Domonic Brown as a starter while still contending for the playoffs. But if they can get a strong starting pitcher for Werth — which is something they could really use — they may have no choice.

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.