Crane Kenney addressed and fielded questions last Friday during meetings with the season ticket holders about the status of the team’s media rights deal. Kenney said the team was “in extra innings” on its television rights negotiations for 2015 and beyond.
A number of potential partners have emerged, all with interest in long-term relationships of at least 15 years and as much as 30 years.
“The big part of the media rights is what is going to happen in 2019,” Kenney said. “We get half of our games back, roughly 70 this year from WGN, the remainder come back to us in 2019 when our Comcast SportsNet agreement ends. And when you marry those two together, there will be a really great market place for those rights so much so that a number of parties are talking to us today about what is going to happen in 2019 and looking for us to do some type of long-term, 25-30 year agreement. This is the most important negotiation we will do and we are going to make sure we do it right and so we are taking our time. What happens between now and 2019 is important, it is not nearly as important, because we can’t really solidify that thing until we get the bigger part.”
“We are not going to short-arm these negotiations,” Kenney said. “And further I am very confident that we are going to have a very good outcome on our television deal.”
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the baseball side are depending on the business side to deliver the TV deal necessary to increase the team’s payroll in the short and long-term. Not only would the team like to add impact talent from outside the organization in the next 15 months, but the young players that are cost effective now should start seeing significant pay increases in three-four years.
“There’s always a chance it comes earlier, right?” Epstein said. “You can strike a deal tomorrow, if things align the right way and you can get a signing bonus upfront. That could change the game for us. And then even if you don’t, even if we wait until the end, we can plan for it. You can sign longer-term deals knowing where that money’s going to come from. I’m not saying that we necessarily backload contracts, because that’s not the best policy. But if you had to, with a certain contract, you could. Knowing that the money’s going to be there changes the lens through which you view every potential transaction. So if you know there’s elite payroll coming, even if it’s not here today, that just puts you in an aggressive posture.”
“You can start taking on high-salary players in trades from other organizations that maybe can’t afford them,” Epstein said. “Every free agent is all of a sudden on the board. You can look at multiples in a given offseason. You can look at your young players and realize you’re going to sign them all. It really effects the lens through which you view every single transaction. And right now we feel really good about our TV deal.”
Additional updates on the status of the Cubs’ media rights have not been provided.
Around Major League Baseball
The Giants advanced to the World Series in dramatic fashion. With the game tied at three in the bottom of the ninth, Travis Ishikawa, who faced the Cubs on Opening Day in a Pirates uniform, launched a three-run homer off Michael Wacha to win the game and the pennant for the Giants. Another questionable decision by Mike Matheny cost the Cardinals.
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, the coaching staff, front office and fan base on winning the 2014 National League Pennant.
The Royals and Giants square off in the World Series on Tuesday night in Kansas City.
Former Cubs first baseman Mark Grace has landed a job at the big league level. Grace was named to Chip Hale’s staff in Arizona and will be the Diamondbacks’ assistant hitting coach for the 2015 season.
Henry Blanco was retained by the D-Backs, but moved from assistant hitting coach to the team’s bullpen/catcher’s coach.
2015 Cubs Convention
The 30th Annual Cubs Convention takes place in January (Jan. 16-18) and those that have not attended a convention should really consider it. The convention is packed full of information and for those autograph seekers, there are plenty of opportunities to land former, current and future players’ signatures.
The schedule and full list of attendees will be released around the first of the year. But the team announced Thursday that Mark DeRosa and Ryan Dempster will return to the convention.
Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins are confirmed and Kris Bryant said in September he would be at the convention as well.
News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs may have found their ace in Jake Arrieta according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
According to a report from Jon Heyman, the Pirates plan to make the $15.3 million qualifying offer to Russell Martin. If Martin turns down the offer as expected, the Pirates will receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. The early estimates on what Martin could receive in free agency have varied from a three-five year contract in the $40-85 million range.
Baseball Prospectus reported C.J. Edwards has “been unfairly pegged as the leader of a lackluster group of pitching prospects.” There is concern about Edwards’ durability due to his size.
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This Day In Cubstory
2009 – Cubs released So Taguchi
1997 – Cubs granted free agency to Mark Dalesandro, Bry Nelson and Rich Sauveur
1981 – Edwin Maysonet, born
1979 – Cubs traded Donnie Moore to the Cardinals for Mike Tyson
1978 – Cubs released Davey Johnson
1978 – Cubs released Cookie Rojas
1970 – John Mabry, born
1962 – Cubs traded George Altman, Don Cardwell and Moe Thacker to the Cardinals for Larry Jackson, Lindy McDaniel and Jimmie Schaffer
1885 – The Chicago National League Ball Club lost to St. Louis 3-2 and the Browns took a two games to one lead in the Championship Series.