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Mark Cuban out of the running for Dodgers; Joe Torre and Magic Johnson among those still in

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UPDATE: The Steve Garvey-Orel Hershiser group was not selected to advance in the bidding process, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

As for the actual bid amounts, well, let’s just say that Frank McCourt is going to walk away from this process filthy, stinkin’ rich. Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that bidding on the Dodgers is now north of $1.2 billion and counting. Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that McCourt already has one bid in the range of $1.5 billion and speculates that the bidding may jump to $2 billion before this is all over. Either way, the final price tag is expected to blow away the previous record of $845 million when the Ricketts family bought the Cubs from the Tribune Company in 2009.

10:44 PM, Friday: Well, we can cross two big names off the list. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times has learned that the groups led by Mark Cuban and former agent Dennis Gilbert didn’t make it to the second round of the bidding process. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is still in.

Meanwhile, Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com hears that Peter O’Malley’s group and the group led by Stanley Gold (who runs the investment firm for the family of the late Roy Disney) have also advanced. O’Malley has reportedly discussed joining forces with Gold’s group.

9:30 PM, Friday: We learned earlier this week that the Dodgers received more than 10 opening bids in advance of Monday’s deadline from those interested in buying the team from Frank McCourt. The opening bids aren’t binding and new bidders could still emerge in the days to come, but we have some early word on who made it through to the next round.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that at least eight groups have advanced, including the Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten group, the Joe Torre/Rick Caruso group and the group headed by hedge fund manager Steven Cohen. No word on any others, but it’s safe to say most of the big names are sticking around.

The Dodgers released a statement a little while ago confirming that “the round of preliminary bidding has been completed successfully.” However, they didn’t say who advanced or provide a timeline for the next step.

The embattled McCourt faces an April 30 deadline to sell the team and has agreed to identify the winning bidder by April 1. The sale is expected to fetch an MLB record price tag in excess of $1 billion.

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.