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Florida legislature to spend $3.3 million a year to try to keep spring training in Florida

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In Florida, the spring training parks are spread out from one another, making travel a drag. The Florida legislature passed a budget yesterday which provides $3.3 million a year for spring training complex upgrades and construction. Including:

This incentive is aimed at helping pay for a proposed stadium that would be used by the Houston Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays in Palm Beach Gardens. The Astros currently train in Kissimmee while the Blue Jays train in Dunedin.

Houston is interesting. Moving from the NL Central to the AL West means that all of their division rivals train in Arizona now. You have to wonder if they wouldn’t want to eventually move to the Cactus League in order to take advantage of all the people who travel to see Texas, Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle.

The Jays have been in Dunedin since the beginning and Canada-to-Florida tourism is a pretty major thing. One wonders if they’d actually try to leave the state, incentives or no incentives. Right now Cleveland and Cincinnati are the farthest north/east teams which travel to Arizona each winter and they’ve historically been at the bottom of Cactus League attendance.

(thanks to Nathan R. for the heads up)

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)
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.