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Teams are inquiring about Alfonso Soriano for some reason

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Ken Rosenthal says that teams are “kicking the tires” on Alfonso Soriano. I can only assume this means that they are kicking in anger, like you might kick the tires of your car when it breaks down on the side of the road. Not like you would when you were considering an investment in a quality used automobile.

Which leads me to ask: what, if anything, does kicking the tires on a car actually do? Is the car supposed to fall over if it’s no good? Is there a certain satisfying sound you’re supposed to get, not unlike when you plunk a melon in the grocery store?  Also: if I ask to look under the hood but I know nothing about cars, is there something specific I should pretend to do so the salesman doesn’t take me for the rube I am?  So many questions.

Back to Soriano: he’s owed $54 million over the next three years. People say stuff like “if the Cubs were to eat most of his salary …” but, really, even then, who wants Soriano?  He’s probably a DH at best now, and even then he’s a bit-of-power/no-OBP skills option.

Which of course means that the Braves will probably get him and stick him in left field. God, why do I bother to think these things through?

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.