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Las Vegas suburb approaches Diamondbacks about relocating

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The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported yesterday that the government of nearby Henderson, Nevada made overtures to the Arizona Diamondbacks about relocating the team. And the Diamondbacks listened, at least to some extent.

Henderson put together a proposal that included a retractable-roof stadium and surrounding development near what will soon be the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders’ practice facility. Henderson reached out to the Diamondbacks about it about a year ago, the Diamondbacks signed a non-disclosure agreement and had at least some level of discussions with the city until February. The Review-Journal now describes the talks as “stalled.” It appears that Henderson has moved on and is seeking to court some other sports franchise. The Diamondbacks, for their part, released the following statement in response to the article:

“A number of cities have expressed interest, but we have not pursued any because we have not received permission from MLB and our desire is, first and foremost, to stay in Arizona.”

That’s a curiously-worded statement. One could parse what “we have not pursued” means given that, according to the article, the Diamondbacks did sign a non-disclosure agreement with Henderson — and with multiple real estate companies in the Las Vegas area — and Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall exchanged emails with the city manager of Henderson over a period of months. It’s even suggested that they met in Atlanta last October and toured the Braves’ facility which, as we have detailed many times, is considered the model for clubs who want to pair a new ballpark with real estate development opportunities.

Taken together it sounds like more than an unsolicited offer that was not pursued. There was at least some amount of interest and interaction there, at least until early this year.

The Diamondbacks have been an at times acrimonious dance with Maricopa County, Arizona over the state of Chase Field. There was a lawsuit filed a couple of years ago in which the team claimed the county had not properly maintained the park and was not responsive to the team’s desire to make renovations and improvements. That resulted in a May 2018 agreement which gave the team greater control of the ballpark — and more of the revenues from the ballpark — through the end of its lease 2027 while also giving the team the right to bolt the place earlier than that. The team has been intermittently reported to be investigating other stadium sites in the Phoenix metro area.

And now we learn that they are at least taking meetings from places outside the Phoenix metro area. It sounds like that will not result in them becoming the Las Vegas Diamondbacks, at least not any time soon. If you’re a Dbacks fan, however, and you’re considering getting a tattoo to honor your favorite baseball team, I’d just consider getting one with the “D” or snake logo and not the “A” logo for the time being.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.