Cubs place Reed Johnson on DL, activate Geovany Soto

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The Cubs had a busy little Sunday morning, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, making four 25-man roster moves.

Outfielder Reed Johnson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury, catcher Geovany Soto was activated from the 15-day disabled list, outfielder Brad Snyder was called up from Triple-A Iowa and catcher Welington Castillo was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Got all that?

Johnson has hit .367/.435/.633 with two home runs and 18 RBI in 69 plate appearances this season for Chicago. He saw a bump in playing time when Marlon Byrd went down with facial fractures and had been performing at a high level both offensively and defensively. The Cubs will have a tough time getting production from center field with both now sidelined.

Soto has been on the disabled list since mid-May with a strained muscle in his left groin. He will return to a .226/.322/.387 batting line, three home runs and 12 RBI, accomplished in 31 games.

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.”