Colby Rasmus

That’s the best the Cardinals could do?

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Blue Jays acquire OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Trever Miller, RHP P.J. Walters and LHP Brian Tallet from the Cardinals for RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP Octavio Dotel and OF Corey Patterson.

I mean, I’m a little down on Colby Rasmus, too.  It’s probably not a good thing that he listens to his dad either as much or more than he listens to his big-league coaches.  His defense hasn’t been nearly as good this year as it was when he entered the league in 2009.  And after a sneaky-exceptional offensive season as a sophomore in 2010, Rasmus has taken an obvious step backwards in 2011.

But this is a great deal for the Blue Jays.  It’s a lot like last year’s Alex Gonzalez-for-Yunel Escobar swap, though this one has even more upside.

Rasmus is just 24.  He’s hit .259/.334/.444 in his three seasons, giving him 111 OPS+.  The only guys 25 or younger with better OPS+ the last three years are Evan Longoria, Carlos Gonzalez, Billy Butler, Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Pablo Sandoval, Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera.  He’s a long-term answer in center field for the Blue Jays, and the biggest thing Toronto gave up to get him was Marc Rzepczynski.

I just can’t believe that the Cardinals, even if they felt that they had to move him, couldn’t get more for Rasmus.  A legitimate No. 2 starter or an All-Star-caliber middle infielder.  They gave up a terrific long-term property without getting a real difference-maker in return.  There’s the chance that Jackson will step it up under Dave Duncan’s tutelage, but he was working under a great pitching coach in Chicago and was just as maddening as usual.  I do like Rzep, both as a reliever now and maybe as a starter next year.  He’s under control through 2015, and he should be a nice asset for years.

But that’s not enough of a haul for Rasmus.  If they wanted Dotel, he would have been easy enough to pick up in a separate deal.  Corey Patterson?  Really?  They couldn’t even get the Jays to part with Rajai Davis instead?  Davis is certainly expendable enough with Rasmus’ arrival, and his right-handed bat makes far more sense for the Cardinals.  Jon Jay, who will replace Rasmus as the team’s primary center fielder, is a left-handed hitter, just like Patterson.

As for the rest of the players the Jays got, it was really just the dregs of the Cardinals’ roster.  Miller, who reportedly will be moved on to the White Sox as part of the original Edwin Jackson deal, has been useless as a lefty specialist lately.  Walters probably would have been bumped from the 40-man to make room for one of the four newcomers.  Tallet had an 8.31 ERA in 13 innings before going on the disabled list.  Absorbing the remainder of his $750,000 contract was part of the cost of doing business.

The Jays made out like bandits here, even after factoring in the hidden costs.  They were forced to take on $7.5 million unwanted dollars by absorbing the Mark Teahen and Tallet contracts.  They gave up the possibility of two supplemental first-round picks by moving Jason Frasor and Dotel.  And Rzepczynski is an underrated property with his fine 2.97 ERA in 39 1/3 innings out of the pen this year.   But to get a player like Rasmus, it really wasn’t much of a price to pay.

Update: For what it’s worth, the deal is now official and the Blue Jays are also surrendering three players to be named or cash considerations.  Hopefully there will be at least one interesting player in there for St. Louis.

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.