Cubs sign Nate Schierholtz to one-year, $2.25M contract

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From ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick comes word that the Cubs agreed to a one-year contract on Wednesday night with free agent outfielder Nate Schierholtz.

Financial terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed.

Schierholtz attracted a pretty strong market after being non-tendered in late November by the Phillies, at one point drawing interest from nine different teams — the Yankees included. But the Cubs, who need outfield insurance in case top prospect Brett Jackson isn’t quite ready to make the jump, apparently came in with the best offer.

Schierholtz hit .257/.321/.407 with six home runs and 21 RBI in 269 plate appearances this past season between San Francisco and Philadelphia. The 28-year-old is a .270/.319/.409 career hitter in MLB.

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UPDATE, 9:45 PM: Crasnick says the deal is worth $2.25 million and carries $500,000 in incentives.

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.”