Attention Tea Partying Cubs fans:
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is asking the state of Illinois to help finance more than $200 million in renovations at Wrigley Field.
In a letter to season ticket holders and Wrigleyville residents, Ricketts said the Illinois General Assembly will be considering a bill to preserve Wrigley Field. The plan will allow a portion of future city and county amusement taxes, paid entirely by Cubs fans, to be invested directly in the preservation of the ballpark. A bill is being drawn up that will be considered in the veto session that begins next week .
Ricketts’ letter said “it will not increase taxes paid by Cubs fans or anyone else and will not create any new taxes.”
I guess technically speaking it won’t increase or create taxes. But those amusement taxes that will be used are already being used to fund some other projects, and moving them to fix up Wrigley Field will necessarily drain those other projects of revenue. Projects that, as far as I can tell, aren’t currently designed to enhance the Cubs’ income streams the way a renovated Wrigley would.
Ricketts’ model for the Wrigley renovations — which are needed, I fully admit — are the Fenway Park renovations that have gone down over the past four or five years. Query: were those funded by public monies, or did Fenway Sports Group pay for that? I believe the latter. I’m going to double check that, but if anyone knows off the top of their head, please let me know and I’ll update.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.