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The Cubs are going to spend some money this winter

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The Cubs stink and need to get better. The new CBA makes it really hard to get better via the draft and international signings. So it’s free agency or bust for Chicago. And they’re going into the market with their wallets open, reports Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:

“We will have some financial flexibility,” Hoyer said. “We’ve been diligent about making sure that we do have flexibility and we’re efficient going forward. We’re obviously going to be active in the free-agent market. I don’t think there’s any question about that.

Mooney notes that, after years of crappy contracts on the book, they only have $40 million guaranteed to players next year before you figure in arbitration cases, and that leaves a lot of room for Chicago to operate.

Between there being several teams with a lot of money having big needs and the fact that everyone is getting richer with TV deals, I think this winter is going to make us feel like we’re back in the early 2000s, free-agency wise.  And I don’t mean with top-ticket signings, because the real blue chippers aren’t on the market as early or as often as they used to be.  I’m talking about middle class free agents getting big deals. Think Pat Mears with the Pirates and stuff.

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.