Rays, St. Petersburg negotiating an agreement to allow the team to look for alternate stadium sites

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For years St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster’s position has been that if the Rays looked at possible new stadium sites outside of Pinellas County they and whoever they negotiate with are threatening the lease for Tropicana Field. There have even been threats of legal action if other cities or counties tried to lure the team from St. Petersburg.

Which makes this report from the Tampa Tribune pretty significant:

Mayor Bill Foster and Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg have been talking, and city attorneys have been meeting with team officials to negotiate an agreement that would allow the team to explore other possible stadium sites. The most recent meeting with the city’s legal team took place Wednesday morning.

Foster is in a reelection fight and the Rays have become an issue, according to the report. It’s possible that even if the lease and the finances favor Foster’s Tropicana-Field-Or-Bust view of the world, that view is becoming a political liability.

I wouldn’t say this means anything is changing any time soon. But it is a first step toward some sort of resolution to get the team out of that ballpark before the lease is up in 2027.

White Sox won’t make bid for Bryce Harper

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The White Sox won’t make a bid for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports. Believed to be the favorites to land shortstop Manny Machado in free agency, the White Sox watched him ink a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. The club is apparently content with its roster otherwise.

Harper would certainly be an upgrade in the outfield, which currently features Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, and Jon Jay. It will soon feature prospects Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert.

Last season, Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 hom eruns, 100 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances. He led all of baseball, drawing 130 walks. Harper is also a six-time All-Star who won the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

The Phillies are still believed to be the favorites to sign Harper and the club is confident it will land him, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.