Arizona Diamondbacks sue to get out of Chase Field

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have filed suit against the Maricopa County Stadium District to get out out — or to alter — the terms of their lease for Chase Field. Specifically, they have asked for the removal of a clause in their lease which prevents the team from talking to outside stadium groups until 2024 and prevents them from leaving the ballpark until 2028.

The lawsuit is the latest chapter in an increasingly acrimonious dispute between the team and the county stadium authority. At issue: the team has claimed that the county must make $135 million in necessary capital improvements to the ballpark. The county maintains that the Diamondbacks are asking for mere cosmetic improvements to the park. Others have claimed that the Dbacks simply want to reduce the number of seats in the 48,500-seat stadium in order to increase ticket prices and revenue.

The Diamondbacks had attempted to get an outside investment group to cover the costs in exchange for development concessions. They have also told the county that they would handle the improvements in exchange for allowing the team to essentially take over the ability to host non-baseball events in the park. The development deal has fallen through and their offer to the city rebuffed. Last spring the team asked the county to let them out of the lease. That was sharply and colorfully refused by the county. Now the club is suing to do it.

Chase Field opened for business in 1998. Despite the Diamondbacks’ claims in the suit that the renovations are needed to ensure the safety of the facility, it seems far fetched that the ballpark is on the verge of being structurally unsound after 19 seasons of use (the club says it’s OK for 2017). That matter, of course, would be at issue if the lawsuit progresses and each side would present expert testimony on the matter.

What does not seem far fetched, however, is a club looking for a lucrative new ballpark — or seeking lucrative renovations on someone else’s dime — despite playing in a relatively new one. The Braves are doing that this spring as they move into Sun Trust Park after playing in Turner Field between 1997 and 2016. The Rangers likewise are building a new ballpark despite Globe Life Field coming online in 1994. In both cases, the reason for the move was/is clearly financial.

Are the Dbacks doing the same thing? That would seem to be a matter for the courts now.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.