Report: Red Sox will pursue Ryan Madson and Heath Bell

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We’ve already talked about the Phillies’ side of things already regarding the Jonathan Papelbon deal, but what about the fallout for the Red Sox?

It once looked like Daniel Bard was the natural heir apparent for the ninth inning role, but whether it had to do with his struggles in September or not, it appears the Red Sox aren’t necessarily convinced that he’s ready for the gig.

According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Red Sox will be in on both Heath Bell and Ryan Madson this winter.

Neither figure to get as much guaranteed money as Papelbon, but they should do very well, even in a deep market for closer-types. Madson was reportedly close to a four-year, $44 million deal with the Phillies earlier this week and considering that Scott Boras is his agent, you can bet he’ll look for a similar deal elsewhere. As for Bell, he told Jim Bowden earlier this week that he would prefer to stay on the West Coast with either the Padres, Angels or Dodgers, but would also be open to signing with the Phillies or Red Sox.

Losing Papelbon is no doubt a blow for Red Sox fans who are witnessing some big changes this offseason. He’s the best closer in team history, so this probably stings a little bit. But I have a feeling they’re also happy new GM Ben Cherington wasn’t the one willing to give him a four-year, $50 million contract.

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.

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.”