UPDATE: Done deal. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that Lopez has agreed to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training, where he’ll compete for a spot on Cleveland’s bench.
Cleveland has had “serious discussions” with free agent Jose Lopez, according to Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com.
Once upon a time Lopez was a promising young infielder, but he’s hit just .233 with a .263 on-base percentage and .348 slugging percentage in 232 games during the past two seasons and was let go for nothing by both the Rockies and Marlins this year.
He’s still just 28 years old and could be useful as a right-handed-hitting platoon partner for left-handed-hitting third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, but Lopez has fallen a long way since his All-Star days and might be available on a minor-league contract.
Maury Brown of Forbes reports that T-Mobile will be the new naming rights partner for the Seattle Mariners’ ballpark beginning in 2019. Their park had been known as Safeco Field since it first opened in the summer of 1999. The 20-year naming rights deal with Safeco ended with the close of the 2018 season.
Brown reports that the deal will be around $3 million a year, which doesn’t seem like a whole lot. Then again, I have long been skeptical of how much naming rights actually bring back to the naming rights partner. That’s especially true when the partner is slapping its name on a ballpark that was known as something else beforehand. People tend to still use the old name and, I suspect, resent the new one a bit. Maybe that’s less the case when the park has only been known by corporate names, and no beloved traditional name is being displaced, but I still question if anyone really makes a single purchasing decision based on the name of a ballpark.
I know this much for sure, though: despite the relatively small cost of naming rights here, none of the most notable Seattle-based companies — which include Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Microsoft, Costco and Alaska Airlines — felt it was worth it. Possibly because they know people are gonna call the place “Safeco” for several years regardless.