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Chone Figgins is moving back to third base for the Mariners

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Last offseason the Mariners signed Chone Figgins and moved him to second base, a position he hadn’t played regularly since 2005.

It didn’t go well, as Figgins compounded his disappointing production at the plate by struggling defensively, with Ultimate Zone Rating pegging him as 12.3 runs below average.

Not surprisingly, with 2010 third baseman Jose Lopez traded to the Rockies and top second base prospect Dustin Ackley on the verge of the majors the Mariners have decided to shift Figgins back to third base.

The shift has been assumed since Seattle acquired Brendan Ryan last month to presumably keep second base warm until Ackley is ready, and general manager Jack Zduriencik told Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald that he recently informed Figgins of the move.

Figgins at third base with Ryan at second base and Jack Wilson at shortstop is an elite defensive infield, although it won’t do much to help improve the Mariners’ historically awful offense. Ackley’s arrival should do that, at which point Ryan will likely shift into a utility role or split time with Wilson at shortstop.

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)
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.