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Blue Jays remain interested in free agent starters Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana

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Ken Rosenthal shares the buzz at FOXSports.com:

The Toronto Blue Jays, in need of another starting pitcher, might finally be preparing to pounce.

The Jays have yet to make an offer to a free-agent starter, according to major league sources. But they have done extensive background work on right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, digging into his medical records, and also remain interested in righty Ervin Santana and other free agents, sources said.

Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett are also thought to be under consideration in Toronto’s front office. Those two veterans did not receive qualifying offers from their former teams and are not tied to draft pick compensation, but, as Rosenthal notes, the Jays have protected picks at Nos. 9 and 11 and the draft slot they’d lose by signing a pitcher like Jimenez or Santana is No. 49.

Santana, 31, posted a 3.24 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 32 starts last year for the Royals, fanning 161 batters in 211 innings. Jimenez, 29, had a 3.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 194 strikeouts in 182 2/3 frames for Cleveland.

The Jays’ locked-in starters for 2014 are R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ.

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.