Marlins’ attendance disappoints compared to expectations and recent new ballparks

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Moving into a state-of-the-art ballpark following an offseason of big spending was supposed to equal huge attendance numbers for the Marlins, but instead Miami ranks dead last in first-year attendance among the 11 new ballparks to open since 2001.

Miami has drawn 27,400 fans per game, which is a massive improvement over previous seasons at the old ballpark. However, it’s also far short of the new 37,442 capacity and about 200,000 fewer fans than any other first-year ballpark since 2001.

Team president David Samson, of course, downplayed the disappointment to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post:

We said in the beginning that a honeymoon would be five innings. We knew that building a ballpark by itself is not the panacea. We wanted to have a great ballpark and a great team, and we made it 50 percent of the way.

That’s quite a bit different than before the season, when Samson told Capozzi:

With the team we are putting together, we expect there to be very few empty seats at this ballpark ever. We have always told ourselves build it small and sell it out, and that’s what we’re going to do.

For a team to improve from 28th to 18th in attendance while finishing in last place with fewer wins than the previous season is impressive, but obviously the Marlins expected bigger numbers along with more wins.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.