The Mets want Major League Soccer in Citi Field, MLS says “no thanks”

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People in New York have been talking about building a Major League Soccer stadium in Queens. It’s apparently a controversial plan, and now the Mets are wading into the mess:

The Mets are “very interested and fully capable” of bringing Major League Soccer to Citi Field, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) announced Thursday. The move would boost the baseball team’s coffers and eliminate potential competition from a $300 million MLS soccer stadium proposed for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

The Mets confirm that they’re on board with such a plan. Major League Soccer doesn’t like the idea, calling it a “non-starter.”

And it’s pretty understandable why. They’ve spent the past 15 years moving teams from inappropriate and ill-fitting football stadiums and the like into soccer-specific stadiums which (a) are way, way better for players and fans in terms of functionality and aesthetics; and (b) are way better for the league and team owners financially. Why, then, the league would want to put soccer in a baseball stadium with what one can only assume are the worst sight lines imaginable is beyond me.

Building a soccer stadium may not be a fantastic idea in and of itself — there is serious opposition to it there for a lot of understandable reasons — but cramming a soccer team in a major league ballpark makes very little sense.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”