Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval won’t play in Venezuelan Winter League

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According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Francisco Chronicle, Pablo Sandoval won’t play for his hometown Navegantes de Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. While the Giants initially cleared him to play in 10 games, he will now participate in the Home Run Derby and visit for a few days with family and friends before returning to the United States.

Sandoval’s agent, Ryan Morgan, said the change of plans had nothing to do with the recent kidnapping of Wilson Ramos in Venezuela, but that his client wants to maintain focus on his training regimen with Triple Threat Performance in Arizona. Kung Fu Panda packed on some pounds over the course of the season, but his goal is to report to spring training even lighter than he did this year.

Sandoval recently underwent LASIK surgery, which successfully corrected a 20/40 impairment in his left eye. And while he was limited during the second half of the season due to a sore left shoulder, Morgan said his client is now “100 percent.” Early contender for “best shape of his life”?

Sandoval, 25, batted .315/.357/.552 with 23 home runs, 70 RBI and a .909 OPS over 466 plate appearances this season. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

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.