The Chicago Cubs are cursed? I think not.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, the Arizona House of Representatives has approved a measure to raise money to keep the Cubs from moving to Florida and to “generate more than $100 million for improvements to facilities across the Valley over the next 30 years.”
Arizona Rep. John McComish, R-Phoenix, is pushing the surcharge in House Bill 2736, despite opposition from the other Cactus League teams.
The original plan would raise $81 million over 25 years and included a $1 car rental fee and an 8 percent Spring Training ticket surcharge. McComish dropped the car rental fee and boosted the ticket surcharge to 10 percent in hopes of raising $185 million over 30 years.
The plan now goes to the Senate, with more negotiations on the way. The rest of the Cactus League teams are against the plan, which is understandable. I wouldn’t want to be taxed to help my neighbor build a new house. They can move to Florida for all I care.
But then again, it’s also a little shortsighted. After all, my neighbors don’t do anything to help me make money. The same can’t be said of the Cubbies, who are the top draw in Arizona and according to one study, bring in $138 million annually to the local economy. According to Muskat’s story, nine of the top 10 attended Cactus League games have been Cubs games.
So what’s good for the Cubs, is good for all the teams in Arizona. You think the Grapefruit League would let the Yankees leave? Didn’t think so.
Then again, the Cubs are one of the top money-making teams in the majors, so maybe they should build their own stadium. Like that will ever happen.
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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.