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Rockies interested in Brandon Webb and Jeff Karstens

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After a year in which their starters posted a major-league worst 5.22 ERA, the Rockies continue to look for reinforcements for their rotation. While the club remains open to possible trades, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that they have expressed “mild interest” in free agent right-handers Brandon Webb and Jeff Karstens.

Webb, who turns 34 in May, is on the comeback trail again after sitting out last season following another shoulder surgery. Bill Geivett, the Rockies’ director of major league operations, confirmed that the club plans to watch Webb throw for teams later this month. We already know that the Twins are also expected to be in attendance.

Webb hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since Opening Day of 2009 and his last comeback fizzled with the Rangers in 2011 due to more shoulder issues. The best-case scenario is that he gets a minor league deal with a spring training invite.

Karstens has a decent 4.02 ERA over 375 2/3 innings over the past three seasons, but he was limited to just 90 2/3 innings in 2012 due to hip and shoulder injuries. The Pirates non-tendered him in late October rather than give him a raise in arbitration, but he should be able to find a major league deal somewhere.

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.