The Cubs, Chicago reach an agreement on Wrigley renovations

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It comes about six days after they had first hoped, but the Cubs and the city of Chicago have finally reached an agreement for half a billion dollars worth of Wrigley Field renovations:

The historic home of the Chicago Cubs will get a $500 million facelift, including its first electronic outfield video board, as part of a hard-fought agreement announced Sunday night between the City of Chicago and the ball team.

Wrigley Field also will host an expanded number of night games under the announced pact, as part of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts’ plans to renovate the second-oldest ballpark in the major leagues, boost business and make baseball’s most infamous losers competitive again.

The video board will be contentious, as it’s not at all clear that the rooftop owners beyond left field — from whom the Cubs take a cut of all receipts — have signed off. They had threatened to sue.  Beyond that, there will now be up to 40 night games (up from 30) and as many as four concerts a year. To ease neighborhood concerns there will be an additional 1,000 parking spots in a remote lot which will be free and come with shuttle service.

The announcement says no tax dollars will be used for the renovations. That’s laudable if it holds true, but there have many many allegedly “private” financings of ballpark construction or renovations which ended up getting public money or breaks of some kind.  Call me when the work is done if you want to tell me this doesn’t impact taxpayers.

That caveat aside, forward, ho.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.