Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper plans to get “as big as a house” this offseason

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Bryce Harper has his eye on joining the annual Best Shape Of His Life list, telling Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he plans to lift tons of weights this offseason and get “as big as a house” by the time spring training rolls around.

Harper also told Kilgore that the nagging knee and hip injuries he dealt with for much of the season won’t require surgery and “it’s more trying to take the time off and let everything settle down.”

Harper got off to an incredible start to his sophomore season at age 20, hitting .373 with nine homers through 23 games, but then he started crashing into walls and playing through injuries and ended up hitting just .249 with 11 homers in his final 95 games. Or as Harper put it: “Body-wise, I felt pretty good except for when I did run into the walls.”

Overall he still finished with a strong .854 OPS, which was a 37-point increase from his rookie season, and Best Shape Of His Life or not a healthy Harper should have a huge 2014.

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.