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The details are in: Cobb County residents will be paying a lot of money for the new Braves park


Via Deadspin, we have the Memorandum of Understanding outlining the method in which the Braves new ballpark in Cobb County will be paid for. Here it is if you’d like to check it out.

As mentioned this morning, it’s 55% Braves money, 45% Cobb County. The breakdown is like so, though:

  • The Braves will pay $280 million up front, adding $92 million more in the future;
  • Cobb County will pay $14 million up front in transportation improvements and $10 million more in general funds from a special business district.
  • The county will finance the remaining $276 million by issuing revenue bonds.

Of course, payments need to be made on bonds. They’ll be paid like so:

  • $400,000 a year from a new rental car tax;
  • $940,000 a year from an existing hotel/motel tax;
  • $2,740,000 a year from a new hotel/motel fee in that special business district;
  • $5,150,000 a year from a property tax increase in the special business district;
  • $8,670,000 a year from reallocating Cobb County property taxes.

The upshot? Politicians can and will say that they’ve only raised taxes in two small places — on out of towners in hotels and people in a special business district who probably knew this sort of thing could happen — and thus it’s a nice, impact-light, conservative-happy financing plan.

Except when you reallocate existing taxes to pay for a ballpark, you are taking them away from uses to which they are already being put. How much of the over $10 million a year moved toward the ballpark is being taken away from already-strapped schools, mental health services, parks, police, fire and other public uses?

And except that, if those rental car and bed taxes don’t provide the funds these estimates think they will, it will almost certainly be taxpayers footing the bill for the shortfall.

Also: if they have the will to raise new taxes in special improvement districts and on out-of-towners for this, why would doing it for any other purpose have led to accusations of creeping socialism and business and job-killing and the like? “Because we like sports,” is the answer, I suppose, “and we’ll now get nice seats at Braves games.”

All of which would be fine if the ballpark would bring economic benefits — benefits which go to the public who is paying for 45% of it — in equal or greater measure. But as we know from history, it is rarely if ever the case that sports facilities or events bring such benefits.

But hey, if that’s what Cobb County wants, at least it’s being done through the democratic process, right? It may be a bad decision to use public funds to pay for the Braves new park, but there’s nothing that says that taxpayers can’t decide to do dumb things. Right?

Because there are no new taxes here outside of the self-taxing CID, the County Commission can approve the proposal without a countywide referendum. Cobb County residents will cover nearly half of the Braves’ ballpark without getting to vote on it.

Oh. Well then.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.

*’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.