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When last I checked in on the A’s and the Las Vegas stadium discussions, it was for a piece at Baseball Prospectus titled, “The A’s Move to Vegas is Approved, Not Assured.” It was basically a laundry list of all the things that could still, very realistically, go wrong with the A’s move out of Oakland and into Las Vegas, and concluded with this:
The private financing isn’t there yet. Schools Over Stadiums, and therefore the public of Nevada, which doesn’t seem particularly interested in the A’s moving into their backyard, might be able to put a stop to this whole thing on the 2024 ballot. Congress could make some noise about the relocation in relation to the antitrust exemption. Hell, the FAA could say the stadium is too close to the airport. The point is just that there are all kinds of questions remaining, and the chances are not zero that one of them results in an answer that ruins John Fisher’s day. We’ve still got a real long way to go here, even if it all seems inevitable.
That was published on November 30. Now it’s January 3, and in between, well, the A’s actually moving didn’t become more convincing. On December 4, the A’s were supposed to unveil stadium renderings. Whether the renderings matter, whether they’re akin to a true reveal of what the stadium that’s supposed to break ground in just over a year is going to look like or are just like, AI-generated nightmare fuel isn’t really important, so much as the fact that they were promised in the period in between the last update and today.
As you might have guessed, the A’s didn’t unveil those renderings on December 4, as a pair of Nevada state troopers had just died, and joy over a stadium in a state function was deemed inappropriate at that time. It’s one day shy of a month later, though, and the renderings are still nowhere to be seen. It’s not because of the holidays, either, as those didn’t start for weeks after the initial postponement. So… where are they? No one knows, but there’s plenty of speculation rampant, as Neil deMause pointed out at Field of Schemes on Tuesday. As he gets into, there’s plenty of unsourced wonderings and “reports” going down saying there’s no indication that owner John Fisher has the funding he needs yet, and that it’s “60/40” that the move even happens.
And those on their own don’t mean much, being unsourced and all. But considering the lack of funding and where the funding was going to come from was an open question before the rendering issue… well, where are the renderings, and why haven’t they been shown yet? And is their not being shown related to issues with funding? It’s a good question to ask, at the least, and another reminder that this whole deal has been approved, but it’s also not inevitable. Unless Fisher gets his funding, there will be no relocation, and that’s not even the sole hurdle left to clear.
Sure, the Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto signings were exciting times, both in the lead up to them and the signings themselves. But free agency, on the whole, has been pretty quiet this offseason. Just one day ago, MLB Trade Rumors posted a piece noting that 28 of their top 50 free agents from this winter’s rankings remain unsigned, while four teams haven’t spent a cent on free agency, including the Yankees and Cubs. The Yankees, at least, were in on major free agents and offering actually huge contracts, and they did acquire Juan Soto, who did not come cheap, but what are the Cubs up to, exactly?
This isn’t like the quiet of 2017-2018, when it was pretty clear there was some form of collusion going down with a long paper trail to follow to get to that explanation — I don’t want to be all “if all you’ve got is a hammer” about this, you know? But the relative silence on free agency is still odd, and notable, and something to keep an eye on: there’s six weeks until spring training, and yet, a couple dozen of the top free agents are just sitting there waiting to hear back from teams or from them at all. For now it’s fair to say that the Ohtani and Yamamoto signings happening as late as they did is why there’s still a delay ongoing, but that only remains true if the balls start rolling downhill in the next couple of days. If things remain quiet on the free agent front, if teams like the Cubs keep not doing anything with their dollars to improve a club that has just the Brewers and Reds standing in the way, then it will be fair to wonder if something else is going on instead.
Remember, the latest CBA is still pretty new: we’ve got just the one regular offseason behind us under it, and just the one season under the new, more balanced schedule. Teams are still figuring out just how much effort they have to put in to at least appear as if they’re trying, and we might not like how low their standards are when they’ve figured out the formula.
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