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Brewers manager Ron Roenicke likes career-long outfielder Corey Hart at first base

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Mat Gamel got hurt and Taylor Green didn’t hit, so the Brewers turned to Corey Hart as Prince Fielder’s replacement at first base and … well, manager Ron Roenicke likes it a lot.

Hart had started just two career games at first base prior to this season–compared to nearly 7,000 innings as an outfielder–but he’s now logged 50 starts at the position while hitting well and if it’s up to Roenicke he’ll remain there long term.

“That’s [general manager] Doug [Melvin]’s decision but I’ve told Doug he’s a difference-maker at first base for me,” Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Some because of the way he plays and some because he’s physically huge.”

Hart is 6-foot-6 and his defensive numbers in the outfield were never great, so the move makes sense as long as the Brewers have basically given up on Gamel returning from knee surgery to establish himself as a regular. Roenicke called Gamel’s situation an “issue” but considering he’s 27 years old and has never had more than 150 plate appearances in a season as a big leaguer … well, that’s an issue the Brewers can address if/when Gamel is healthy and hitting.

Hart has one more season and $10 million remaining on his contract and it looks like he’ll be spending it as a first baseman.

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.