The Blue Jays are thinking about Johnny Damon

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MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Blue Jays are interested in Johnny Damon and have spoken to Scott Boras about him.

GM Alex Anthopoulos said the team was really more in the “information-gathering stage” for Damon, which can probably be translated to “we’re waiting to see how cheap we can get him,” but unlike the Reds and Tigers, there appears to be legitimate interest on the part of the Jays.  Not speaking specifically about Damon, Anthopoulos said that if the Jays go after any free agents, one of the considerations would be whether they could unload them in the middle of the season for some value, which is pretty smart.

It’s going to be a rough year for the Jays, but I have to say that I’ve liked just about everything Anthopoulos has done. He’s realistic about where his team is on the success cycle. And while it may be some time before anything great happens in Toronto, I like how he has approached the rebuilding process in his short time at the helm.

Rays stadium project dead, team stuck in Tropicana Field until 2027

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LAS VEGAS — Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg appeared at the Winter Meetings a few minutes ago and said that the project which was intended to result in a new ballpark for the team in Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa has fallen apart. No new ballpark will be built and the three-year window granted to the team by the City of St. Petersburg to negotiate for a new ballpark will come to a close without any deal. The Tampa Bay Rays appear to be stuck in Tropicana Field through 2027.

Sternberg’s statement came mere hours after it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred sent a sternly-worded letter to Hillsborough County officials, blasting the framework for the deal for the new stadium in Ybor City, saying it lacked specifics and criticized “the actual level commitment” from the public side. It’s not unreasonable to read that as the Commissioner’s dissatisfaction with how much public money the County was pledging to complete the project. Sternberg said just now that “we were not close to a workable framework.”

In his comments this morning Sternberg noted that the Rays had worked “for ten years” to get a new stadium and that they’d continue to try to work to that end, but the team’s options are extremely limited. The Rays are party to what has been described as an iron-clad lease for Tropicana Field, lasting through 2027. Until three years ago the Rays were  prohibited from even talking to anyone about building a new ballpark outside of St. Petersburg. In December 2015 St. Pete granted the team a window to negotiate with Hillsborough County which Sternberg called “very generous.” It is now closing, however, and Sternberg said that there are no plans to ask St. Petersburg officials for a new one.

Which means that the Rays are likely stuck in Tropicana Field through 2027. While Sternberg talked of being creative and searching for any and all available options, he likewise said that “we need to figure out where the 2028 season will be played.”