Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Nationals and Braves have expressed interest in acquiring Marlon Byrd from the Cubs.
Makes sense on one level: each team could use an outfielder. The Nationals have been searching for a centerfielder forever, and Byrd could handle that probably as well as Jayson Werth could. The Braves have moved their starting left fielder Martin Prado to third base to cover for Chipper Jones, meaning that Eric Hinske and Matt Diaz will be covering left rather than serving as bench bats as God and Nature intended.
Of course, the fact that Byrd had an awful year at the plate last year means that he’s no panacea. He’s 34, he’s owed $6.5 million and he hit 276/.324/.395 last season, so it’s hard to see how such a deal would look, what with neither the Nats nor the Braves likely wanting that salary or wanting to give up anything for him.
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.
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.