pujols grimace

Agent tells Marlins they’re out, Albert Pujols “will not be going to Florida”

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By signing Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million deal the Marlins made it pretty clear that they were no longer holding out much hope of reeling in Albert Pujols, and sure enough Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Pujols’ agent has informed Miami that they’re out of the running.

Or as Crasnick put it: “Albert Pujols will not be going to Florida.”

That obviously makes the Cardinals overwhelming favorites to re-sign Pujols, which has been the consensus coming from reporters at the winter meetings most of the day, but a source told Crasnick that Pujols “continues to negotiate with clubs other than the Cardinals.”

If the Cubs are one of those “clubs other than the Cardinals” team president Theo Epstein certainly isn’t leaving any hints, telling Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that there’s “nothing big we’re close to.”

UPDATE: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Marlins have officially withdrawn their offer to Pujols.

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)
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.