MLB-wide attendance declines for a third straight season

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MLB set attendance records in 2007, averaging 32,785 fans per game and drawing a total of 79.5 million fans. Since then attendance has dropped each season, going from 32,528 and 78.6 million in 2008 to 30,350 and 73.4 million in 2009.
And this season the totals fell again, with MLB averaging 30,141 fans per game and drawing a total of 73.1 million fans. Compared to the 2007 figures that represents a loss of 5.5 million fans in three seasons, which is a seven percent drop.
To put that in some context, consider that 20 teams drew fewer than 2.8 million fans, so a decline of 5.5 million is essentially like wiping away the attendance for any two teams outside of the Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Angels, Twins, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants, and Rockies.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.