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Rays work out trade with Marlins for shortstop Yunel Escobar

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From CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler comes word that the Rays and Marlins are close to a trade that will send shortstop Yunel Escobar to Tampa Bay in exchange for infield prospect Derek Dietrich.

Escobar was acquired by the Marlins as part of last month’s blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays, but Miami never really planned on opening the season with him on their active roster. The 30-year-old native of Cuba even told Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he did not feel wanted.

Escobar batted just .253/.300/.344 in 145 games this past season for Toronto, but he was much better in 2011 and had a fantastic 2009 season with the Braves. If the Rays can get him to focus, it could work out.

Dietrich, a former second-round draft selection out of Georgia Tech, hit .279/.338/.457 with 14 home runs and 75 RBI in 132 games this summer between High-A Charlottle and Double-A Montgomery. He’s 23 years old.

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UPDATE, 11:04 PM: Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says the trade has been completed.

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.