Cardinals have interest in shortstop Erick Aybar

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CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler shares this scoop:

After talking to the White Sox about Alexei Ramirez and checking in with the Phillies on Jimmy Rollins, the Cardinals have now been in touch with the Angels about Erick Aybar, according to sources.

Anaheim surely wants young pitching prospects in return and that’s something the Cardinals possess.

Aybar, 29, is batting .280/.309/.384 with four home runs, five stolen bases and 37 RBI in 82 games this season for the 48-56 Halos. Pete Kozma, 25, is hitting .241/.286/.304 in 96 games for the 62-41 Cards.

Aybar is making a $8.5 million salary this year and owed a total of $25.5 million from 2014 to 2016.

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UPDATE, 8:41 p.m. ET: Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM says the Angels want one of the Cardinals’ top two pitching prospects — Carlos Martinez or Michael Wacha — along with Kozma in return for Aybar. The Cardinals are “reluctant” to do the trade at that lofty price, according to Bowden’s source.

UPDATE, 8:56 p.m. ET: Bowden reports that the Cardinals have made it clear to the Angels that they will not trade Martinez or Wacha for Aybar. The asking price will have to come down for this one to work.

Report: Mariners enter into a ballpark naming rights deal with T-Mobile

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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.