Good news: the Ricketts’ shameless campaign to get the State of Illinois to pay for renovations to Wrigley Field is dead in the water:
The Cubs’ plan to use 35 years’ worth of amusement-tax growth to finance a $200 million renovation of Wrigley Field — and back-stop the bonds with a 2 percent hotel tax — is dead, sources said Wednesday.
The setback for a plan the Cubs had hoped to ram through the state Legislature’s fall veto session has sent team officials back to the drawing board to search for alternatives that might include creating a tax-increment-financing (TIF) district around Wrigley.
Of course this doesn’t mean its over, as most of the linked article is spent discussing alternative ways the Cubs could get either the city or the state to pay for the upkeep to their building that they themselves should be paying. It’s all fairly non-critical too which is regrettable. I’m not saying that the news story should be an editorial against public financing of ballparks, but you’d think there would be at least one quote from a person who thinks it’s bad government to have taxpayers underwriting an anti-tax zealot billionaire’s vanity investment. And yes, such people do exist. If they didn’t the legislature wouldn’t be killing the current plan.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.