Darin Erstad says 'I'm done' after 14 seasons

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Following in Mark Mulder’s footsteps, Darin Erstad has made official what everyone assumed by telling a reporter in his native North Dakota that he’s “done.”

I couldn’t be much happier. I got to live a dream playing baseball for 14 years, now I’m getting to live the other side and it’s a blast. I had my time. I always said, “When I’m done, I’m done.” I’m good. I don’t have any complaints. It was 14 very enjoyable years. I gave my heart and soul to the game. I’m comfortable with my decision to move on. Do I miss it? Of course, I loved to play. But what I have at home is great, too.

Erstad tried to find a bench job during spring training, but even then expressed some reservations about being away from his family for “three pinch-hit at-bats” per week. He lives in Nebraska with his wife and three children under four years old.
Mulder had his last good season at age 27, as injuries ruined what was shaping up to be an excellent career, but Erstad played until age 35 despite not being a particularly valuable player after turning 30. He didn’t crack a .700 OPS in any of last five seasons and didn’t top an .800 OPS after 2000.
Excellent and often underrated defense in center field usually made up for Erstad’s inconsistent and ultimately mediocre offense, and the former No. 1 overall pick retires with three Gold Gloves, two All-Star appearances, a World Series title, 1,697 hits, and about $50 million in career earnings.

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.