Link-O-Rama: Cubs not interested in bringing Harden back

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* Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs “have no plans” to re-sign impending free agent Rich Harden despite the oft-injured right-hander saying publicly that he’d like to stay in Chicago. Minnesota made a run for Harden prior to the trading deadline, but an incentive-laden deal from a big-payroll team seems like the most probable scenario.
* Team USA lost their tournament opener and then won 14 straight games to capture back-to-back World Cup titles, defeating Cuba in the championship game yesterday. Cuba had won nine straight World Cup titles before losing to the United States in 2007. Rangers prospect and 2008 first-round pick Justin Smoak was named MVP of the tournament after hitting nine homers with 22 RBIs in 15 games.
* Nate Schierholtz has been swinging at everything while posting awful strikeout-to-walk ratios for his entire pro career, which spans 800 games and 3,100 plate appearances between the majors and minors. All of which makes Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s contention that playing winter ball this offseason “will help him learn the strike zone” kind of silly.
* Omar Vizquel has spent this season backing up Elvis Andrus in Texas and the majors’ oldest position player said yesterday that he’s planning to play in 2010. Vizquel was a starter for the first 20 years of his career, but the 42-year-old has hit .266/.319/.343 while logging just 187 plate appearances as a full-time backup this season.
* San Francisco is unlikely to exercise the $8.1 million option on Freddy Sanchez for 2010 and the impending free agent indicated yesterday that he’d rather hit the open market than agree to a new deal with the Giants at a lower salary.
* Ozzie Guillen clarified that he doesn’t hate football, he just hates football after his team gives up 12 unanswered runs after leading 5-0.

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.