Tom Ricketts decides to go to war with the rooftop owners over Wrigley Field renovations

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The Cubs and the rooftop owners have been in rancorous negotiations for a year over the Wrigley Field renovation. The upshot: owner Tom Ricketts wants to pay for renovations, in part, by putting up big billboards behind the bleachers. The rooftop owners — who have a deal with the Cubs which pays the team part of the proceeds they get for their little rooftop seats and parties looking into the ballpark — say that doing so violates the contract and that, if the Cubs go through with the plan, they’ll sue.

This move by the Cubs is not, therefore, one which is likely to lead to a quick resolution:

Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts is offering a new pitch to long-suffering fans as he struggles to get a Wrigley Field renovation underway: If the rooftop owners are going to sue us anyway over blocked views into the stadium, we might as well get more of what we want in an upgraded ballpark.

To that end, he plans to submit a revised proposal to City Hall that would feature more large electronic signs, additional seats, bigger clubhouses and a relocation of the quaint bullpens from foul territory to a spot under the bleachers by removing bricks and some of the iconic ivy and covering the space with a material that would allow relievers to see onto the field, according to a high-ranking Cubs source.

The move was announced in a video from Ricketts to Cubs fans, along with a story from Carrie Muskat of MLB.com with more details about the clubhouse renovation and plans for altered seating and lighting in the outfield.

I feel like Ricketts and the Cubs did some math, figured out how much they’d realistically have to pay out in order to appease the rooftop owners — whose contract ends in 2023 — and decided “screw it, we’ll make the money now and pay them off later if they think they can win.” Of course, to make these changes they have to get city approval and that’s no sure thing given how politically-connected the rooftop people are. It’s gonna get Chicago-ugly pretty soon, one assumes.

In any event, this is either the kiss-off to the rooftops or as hard a negotiating ploy as Ricketts could muster. Fun times.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.