UPDATE: Cards sign Felipe Lopez

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Felipe Lopez headshot.jpgUpdate: OK, Johnny Mo is just showing off at this point. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Lopez will earn a $1 million base salary with $1.2 million in “easily attainable” incentives. Lopez made $3.5 million last season.

Saturday, 11:00 AM: The Cardinals have officially announced the signing. In fact, Lopez is already at Roger Dean Stadium (hat-tip to John Marecek of KTRS in St. Louis).

Friday, 8:55 PM: Heyman writes that he’ll make a $1.75 million base salary. Even better for the Redbirds.

Friday, 8:38 PM: Buster Olney of ESPN confirms the signing. One-year, $2 million, pending a physical.

Friday, 8:00 PM: According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are close to signing free agent infielder Felipe Lopez to a one-year contract. He could take a physical as soon as this weekend, according to the report. If the contract is finalized, he’ll earn a $2 million base salary with a chance for some additional incentives.

Lopez, who earned $3.5 million last season, amazingly has to settle for less money after what was arguably his best season. He batted .310/.383/.427 with nine home runs and 57 RBI for the Diamondbacks and Brewers in ’09 and as I compiled in November, Lopez ranked fourth among impending free agents in WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Lopez became so frustrated this offseason that he recently fired Scott Boras and signed on with Beverly Hills Sports Council.

Lopez, who played 43 games with the Cardinals in 2008, is a pretty nice contingency plan while Brendan Ryan rehabs from wrist surgery. Because of his versatility around the diamond, he could even play some third base on occasion if rookie David Freese struggles or needs a breather. It’s a no-brainer, really.

And for my fellow Mets fans, just a reminder that Alex Cora will make $2 million this season and Luis Castillo is still the starting second baseman.
 

Yordano Ventura exits game with back tightness

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.

It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.

Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.

Cubs are seeking a court order against unlicensed vendors

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If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”

[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.

While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.

Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.

This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.

The club’s full complaint can be found here.