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Adrian Beltre officially becomes a free agent by declining $10 million player option

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As expected, Adrian Beltre has declined his $10 million player option for 2011 and will hit the open market following a monster year that saw him bat .321 with 28 homers and a league-leading 49 doubles for the Red Sox.

After an injury wrecked, career-worst campaign for the Mariners last season Beltre turned down some multi-year offers to take a one-year, $9 million deal from the Red Sox in the hopes of increasing his value and taking another crack at free agency.

He succeeded in a big way, and while the deal also included a player option that increased from $5 million to $10 million based on playing time Beltre was so good this season that he’ll have no trouble getting several times that much in guaranteed money on the open market.

Beltre recently put his California home on the market for $19.8 million, perhaps suggesting that he’s thinking about relocating to the East Coast full time, but the Red Sox will have tons of competition for his services following an MVP-caliber year at age 31.

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.