Scrappers seeking upgrades

NILES — A multi-million dollar restoration project is under consideration for Eastwood Field with dollars being sought through the state capital budget for support.

The stadium, which broke ground in 1998, is owned by the city and leased to the Cafaro Co. for $1 a year under a 200-year lease, according to Law Director Terry Swauger who said the tenant is responsible for the electric bill up to $23,000 annually with the city picking up electricity costs in excess of $23,000 up to $46,000.

The Cafaro Co. sublets the stadium to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

City Auditor Giovanne Merlo said an estimated $4 million in restoration projects are under consideration and officials are seeking $1.8 million in funding through the state capital budget, which was confirmed by Jordan Taylor, Mahoning Valley Scrappers general manager, as well as State Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, although a formal request hasn’t yet been submitted.

Although nothing is set in stone, Taylor said a number of ideas are under consideration, including field, clubhouse, lighting and scoreboard improvements.

Major League Baseball sets some guidelines for facilities at the stadium, Taylor said, because the Scrappers are the Class A short-season affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The improvements being considered for Eastwood Field are similar to improvements made at Progressive Field in 2017, Taylor said.

“We are basically trying to reimagine the ballpark and see what we can do to enhance it for the next 20 years,” Taylor said.

Joe Bell, Cafaro Co. director of corporate communications, said details of who will cover the cost of renovations haven’t been finalized.

“It’s a good idea to recognize the facility should be upgraded now that they’re heading into their 20th year,” Bell said.

Newly-elected city Councliman at-Large Barry Profato, who chairs the community development and neighborhood stabilization committee, said he supports renovation efforts because the stadium is a business anchor with room to grow.

“We can’t overlook any opportunity to bring revenue into this community,” Profato said.

Councilman Al Cantola, 4th Ward, said during a Wednesday roundtable discussion where the issue was briefly mentioned, that he would like to learn more about the project and whether the city might incur additional costs should renovations lead to more use of the stadium for additional events.

Indians sign three

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians avoided salary arbitration with starter Danny Salazar and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, agreeing to one-year contracts for 2018.

Salazar, who is coming off an inconsistent and injury-slowed 2017, will make $5 million next season. Chisenhall’s contract is worth $5.58 million. He’s projected to be the starting right fielder for the AL Central champions.

Cleveland also reached agreement with reliever Zach McAllister on a $2.45 million contract.

The Indians, however, didn’t settle with starter Trevor Bauer before Friday’s deadline to exchange salary figures. Bauer won a career-high 17 games last season and developed into a vital member of Cleveland’s rotation.

Bauer’s representatives submitted a salary of $6.25 million while the Indians countered at $5.3 million. Arbitrators will begin holding hearings on Jan. 29.

Earlier this week, the Indians avoided arbitration with closer Cody Allen, who will make ($10,575,000) next season.

Donaldson gets $23 million

TORONTO (AP) — Third baseman Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a $23 million contract, the largest one-year deal for an arbitration-eligible player.

The 32-year-old, a three-time All-Star, topped the $21,625,000, one-year deal covering 2018 agreed to last May by outfielder Bryce Harper and Washington.

Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, got a $6 million raise after rebounding from an injury-slowed 2016 to hit .270 last season with 33 homers and 78 RBIs in 113 games. The sure-handed infielder missed time from April 14 through May 25 with a calf injury, which also hampered him during spring training.

Donaldson was coming off a $28.65 million, two-year deal. He is eligible for free agency after this season.

Toronto also agreed Friday to one-year deals with outfielder Ezequiel Carrera ($1.9 million) and left-hander Aaron Loup ($1,812,500).

Carrera earned $1,162,500 last season, when the 30-year-old Venezuelan played every outfield spot and batted .282 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in a career-high 131 games for the Blue Jays — 91 of those in left field.

Toronto’s other arbitration eligible players are right-handers Dominic Leone, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, outfielder Kevin Pillar and second baseman Devon Travis.