No one is watching the Nationals … still

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Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post notes
that viewership for the Nationals’ television broadcasts is up 56
percent so far this season, which sounds great until you realize that
increase basically amounts to 3,000 extra people watching each game.

According to Steinberg the Nationals are now averaging about 12,000
viewers per game, which is “easily the worst in the country” and “about
a third the television audience of every other U.S. franchise” save for
the A’s. For comparison, the Orioles are averaging 34,000 viewers per
game and the Yankees lead baseball at 320,000.

I’m absolutely shocked by an MLB team drawing only 9,000 or 12,000
television viewers per game, but apparently my perception of baseball’s
popularity within each market is simply way off base. In looking at Sports Business Journal‘s chart showing viewership numbers, nearly every team is significantly under what I’d have guessed.

Only the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies, Mariners, Tigers,
Dodgers, and my beloved Twins have an average TV audience over 100,000
people, and the Nationals and Orioles are among nine teams that average
fewer than 50,000 viewers per game.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.