Nationals' Strasburg pitches in the rain during the second inning of their MLB game against Braves in Washington

How insurance plays a part in the Stephen Strasburg shutdown decision

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The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore is one of the best baseball writers around because, in addition to simply being a good writer and reporter, he’s smart and curious about the game and all that surrounds it. One of the reasons you don’t read a lot of cut-and-paste stories from him is that he thinks a lot about what’s interesting, not just about what’s there to be reported.

A good example today comes in his piece — not driven by some event or press release, but by his own curiosity — regarding the potential insurance ramifications of Stephen Strasburg pitching for the Nationals beyond the date the club his chosen to shut him down.

The short version: there is a good chance that, if Strasburg were to pitch against medical advice and get hurt, the Nationals would not be able to draw on any insurance they have for him and thus would have to cover his contract themselves. That’s not a small consideration, it seems.

At the same time, as Kilgore notes, it’s not like Strasburg is hurt now, so the “medical advice” against which he’d be pitching, is pretty damn speculative (i.e. there is no consensus on how to best handle a post Tommy John pitcher).

Taking it a step further, one wonders whether a fight between the Nats and an insurance company over this sort of thing would lead to a decision in which even the most overly-cautious approaches to a player’s health became the official reasonable standard for such things.

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.