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Cardinals to announce a contract extension for Stephen Piscotty later today

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The Cardinals have announced a news conference for 2PM ET/1PM CT this afternoon. While they have not yet revealed the purpose of the presser, Ken Rosenthal reports that the club will use it to announce a contract extension for right fielder Stephen Piscotty.

Piscotty has played only one full season in the bigs and part of a second, but he has already established himself as the man who will man right in St. Louis for a long time. In 2016 he hit .273/.343/.457 with 22 homers and 85 driven in. In 2015 he hit .305/.359/.494 in 62 games.

Piscotty would not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2019 season and would not be eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season. That means he’ll get some money now without the uncertainty of the next few years. It also means, of course, that he will get a lot less money than if he were to remain healthy and effective and hit those milestones without a long term deal.

But such are the tradeoffs of every young player.

UPDATE: Piscotty will be guaranteed $33.5 million in his extension, which will likely be a six-year deal with a team option.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.