The Cubs have made no secret of their desire to have the streets surrounding Wrigley Field turn into pedestrian plazas on game days, much the way the Red Sox have done with the streets outside of Fenway Park. Concessions and such, which will serve to not only make the ballpark more fun and comfortable for fans coming to the game, but which will also capture pre-game revenue that would otherwise go elsewhere.
All of that is a step closer now, thanks to a bill introduced before City Council. The Sun-Times:
The Cubs would be allowed to sell beer and wine from kiosks at an open-air plaza adjacent to a renovated Wrigley Field — and fans would be allowed to bring drinks in plastic cups to the plaza — in the latest in a string of concessions to the team.
There are obviously neighborhood politics to all of this. What taking up the space for the plaza does for traffic, access by residents, parking, etc. But from the fan’s and the team’s perspective alone this kind of setup is a win. Fans will have more stuff to do down by the park and the team will benefit from people willing to get their and spend their money earlier. Having seen how it all works before a game at Fenway, it’s hard to argue that it’s anything but a plus for the game-going experience.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.