Padres fire general manager Josh Byrnes

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From the Padres’ official team blog on MLB.com:

After a disappointing start to the 2014 season, in which the team lost 43 of its first 75 games, the Padres announced today that Executive Vice President/General Manager Josh Byrnes has been relieved of his duties.

“This ownership group is committed to fielding a team that consistently competes for postseason play,” said club president and CEO Mike Dee in a written statement Sunday. “Thus far this season, the results on the field have been mixed at best and clearly have not lived up to expectations. After a lengthy evaluation of every facet of our baseball operations, we have decided to make this change today.

“The search for a new General Manager begins immediately,” continued Dee’s statement. “We are looking for someone who can define, direct and lead this franchise’s baseball philosophy for years to come.”

Byrnes was promoted to general manager in October 2011. San Diego was 184-215 on his watch. Omar Minaya, Fred Uhlman, and A.J. Hinch will act as an interim GM committee until a replacement is named.

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.