Jake Elmore, Jimmy Paredes

Some of MLB’s worst teams had something to play for Sunday

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With the new collective bargaining agreement came a new incentive for teams to play poorly: locking up a protected first round draft pick. In the old CBA, the first 15 first-round picks were protected. In the new one, only ten are protected. If a team with a protected pick signs a free agent who received a qualifying offer, that team does not have to surrender its first round draft pick as compensation.

Teams with the ten worst records secured themselves a protected pick. Entering today’s action, the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Twins, Cubs, Mariners, and Phillies had already locked one up. The Rockies, Mets, Blue Jays, and Brewers entered Sunday’s contests playing for the remaining three spots. In the event of a tie, the team with the worse 2012 record gets preference.

With all of Sunday’s action finalized, here are your protected pick standings:

Team W L Win%
1 Houston Astros 51 111 .315
2 Miami Marlins 62 100 .383
3 Chicago White Sox 63 99 .389
4 Minnesota Twins 66 96 .407
5 Chicago Cubs 66 96 .407
6 Seattle Mariners 71 91 .438
7 Philadelphia Phillies 73 89 .451
8 Colorado Rockies 74 88 .457
9 Toronto Blue Jays 74 88 .457
10 New York Mets 74 88 .457
11 Milwaukee Brewers 74 88 .457

Last year, the Rockies had a .395 winning percentage, the Jays .451, the Mets .457, and the Brewers .512. Unfortunately for the Brewers, they finish on the outside looking in.

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.