Kevin Youkilis Reuters

Kevin Youkilis expected to be traded soon

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UPDATE, 9:35 PM ET: According to Rosenthal, the Indians are now considered a “longshot” to land Youkilis and the Dodgers have only had “minimal contact” with Boston’s front office. It sounds like it might come down to the White Sox and Pirates.

3:52 PM ET: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports that the Red Sox are hoping Youkilis is traded today to the White Sox, Indians or Dodgers.

3:30 PM ET: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was told by a new source that the Pirates are “likely” out on Youkilis “at this point.”

2:00 PM ET: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is now reporting that the Pirates are “very much” in the mix for Kevin Youkilis. Of course, the Pirates have already benefited by getting A.J. Burnett from the Yankees for almost nothing, so they probably are thinking, “Why the heck not?”

1:44 PM ET: Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers are on the “fringe” of talks for Kevin Youkilis. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com have been told that the Pirates remain in the mix.

11:20 AM ET: It sounds like a deal could happen at any moment.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald was told by a major league source that Kevin Youkilis will be traded “sooner rather than later” while ESPN’s Buster Olney was told by MLB officials that a deal could happen as soon as today.

It appears that the Red Sox are already making preparations for the post-Youkilis era, as Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe hears that team officials talked last night to discuss possible roster moves in the wake of a trade.

10:01 AM ET: Kevin Youkilis could be entering his final days in a Red Sox uniform.

According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Red Sox are currently speaking with multiple clubs and are moving closer to a possible deal. The White Sox have engaged in “heavy dialogue” for Youkilis while the Dodgers are also in the mix. For what it’s worth, one official involved in the talks told ESPN’s Buster Olney yesterday that the White Sox may be “best positioned” to make a deal.

The White Sox could certainly use the the upgrade, as they have a major league worst .165/.242/.218 batting line and a .460 OPS from the third base position this year. Orlando Hudson is currently getting the bulk of the playing time at the hot corner while Brent Morel recovers from a back injury.

Youkilis is making $12 million this season and his $13 million option for 2013 carries a $1 million buyout, so the Red Sox are willing to absorb some of his remaining salary in order to acquire a potentially useful piece in return. However, given his lack of production this year and the obvious durability concerns, it’s unlikely we’ll see them get a player of great significance. This is mostly about clearing the way for hot-hitting rookie Will Middlebrooks to officially take over as the starting third baseman while ensuring that Gold Glover Adrian Gonzalez won’t have to continue shuffling between right field and first base.

White Sox ballpark to be renamed “Guaranteed Rate Field”

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10:  General view as members of the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins stand for the National Anthem before the White Sox home opener at U.S. Cellular Field on April 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Stadium naming rights have long been with us. They’re just a part of the sports landscape now. Some are pretty spiffy despite their corporate underwriting: “Great American Ballpark” could be the name of a sports facility even if it wasn’t also the name of an insurance company. “Progressive Field” could be the name of a field even an anti-corporate dude like Bernie Sanders could appreciate, at least if he’s sloppy with capitalization.

Others are clunky: “Globe Life Park in Arlington” seems to have both adjective and preposition problems, as if it were run through a foreign language translator and then back again to English. The joint in Oakland went by the name O.co Coliseum for a spell. That was for Overstock.com, but it didn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

At the risk of being snobbish, I think it’s fair to say that there are also higher and lower rent names as well. Banks, airlines and beer companies, however crassly commercial they are, seem a bit more respectable and venerable than, say, the fly-by-night dot com companies which named sports facilities for several years. “Chase” and “Coors” aren’t going anyplace. Those places are named after American institutions, even if they’re still corporate institutions. I’m pretty sure that circa 2001 half the stadiums and arenas in the country were named after businesses still being run out of tech incubators in nondescript office parks, their first biggest investment being the naming rights, their second biggest investment being the ping pong table in the break room.

The White Sox have long played in “U.S. Cellular Field.” This is pretty dicey as it is, given that that company is only a regional wireless provider. Fifth largest in the country. Certainly not A-list, and likely far more identifiable to more Americans as the name of a ballpark than the name of a going telecommunications concern, thereby sort of defeating the purpose of naming rights. Which must be why U.S. Cellular is getting out of the naming rights business, leaving the White Sox to find a different naming rights partner:

As the tenth largest mortgage company in the country, is there even any guarantee that Guaranteed Rate will be in business in 2030? If the choices are “it goes under,” “it gets purchased by a larger lender” and “it’s still there,” I am not putting money on the latter choice.

That aside, it’s just a goofy name for a ballpark. It’ll better lend itself to columnist jokes about bad guaranteed contracts for bust veterans than it will to spreading awareness of a financial services company. And don’t even get me started on the dissonance between the ballpark name and its tenant’s ticket price policies:

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Best work on that, guys.

UPDATE: LOL

 

Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz cleared waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 10:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows through on a 3 RBI double in the ninth inning off of Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 10,  2016 in Los Angeles, California. Phillies won 6-2.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz have both cleared waivers, which means the club can attempt to trade either player unimpeded. Stark adds that two teams are mulling a pursuit of Ruiz, but Howard is “virtually certain” to stay with the Phillies.

Howard, 36, has unimpressive overall stats, as he’s carrying a .198/.252/.445 triple-slash line with 19 home runs and 43 RBI in 286 plate appearances. The Phillies have limited Howard to right-handed pitching by platooning him with Tommy Joseph.

Shockingly, Howard has been one of the best hitters of the second half, as Corinne Landrey explains at FanGraphs. Using wRC+, an all encompassing offensive statistic that sets 100 at average, only Joey Votto has been a more productive hitter since the All-Star break, owning a 226 wRC+ to Howard’s 191. Howard is trailed by Freddie Freeman (179), Adrian Gonzalez (149), and Paul Goldschmidt (140).

Howard is owed the remainder of his $25 million salary for the 2016 season as well as a $10 million buyout for ’17. Despite Howard’s productive second half and even if the Phillies were to cover all of the remaining money owed, there won’t be much of a market for an inconsistent 1B/DH in his mid-30’s who can’t field, can’t run, and can’t hit left-handed pitching.

Ruiz, 37, has had a solid season, batting .261/.368/.352 in 193 plate appearances. Like Howard, Ruiz has lost playing time at his primary position to a younger player — Cameron Rupp, in this case. Ruiz is owed the remainder of his $8.5 million salary and is under contract next season if his controlling club picks up his $4.5 million option. That option may make him even more attractive to interested clubs, as Ruiz is still a valuable catcher. He has accrued 1.3 Wins Above Replacement despite limited playing time and has a reputation for working well with his pitchers. A playoff-bound club could do a lot worse.