The State of Arizona wants to impose a "Cubs tax" on all the Cactus League teams

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The deal to keep the Cubs’ spring training home in Mesa, Arizona was contingent on the State of Arizona finding the money to help them build an $84 million new complex.  Their idea: impose a surcharge on spring training tickets to help cover the cost. But not just Cubs spring training tickets: they want to impose a fee on tickets sold by all of the teams that train in the state.  The other teams aren’t fans of this plan:

“All 14 other Cactus League teams oppose House Bill 2736 as introduced.
We are working persistently with legislative leadership in the House to
construct an alternative plan that will work for everyone, including
the Cubs,” said John Kaites, a Phoenix attorney and lobbyist who
represents the Mariners and White Sox. He would not provide details,
however.

I’m against this sort of thing too, but I do find it extremely rich that the owners of baseball teams who have made billions by making other people pay for their stadiums are suddenly aghast that someone would do it to them.

In other Cubs news, whoever is in charge of the cover of the new Cubs’ annual may want to re-think the placement of Derek Lee’s head, because some people — not me, of course — giggle and snork when they see stuff like that.

[giggle]

[snork]

(Thanks to Robert T for the link to the Cubs annual, and sympathy to his wife and children for having to live with a guy with smut on his mind).

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.