My friend Vince Grzegorek of the Cleveland Scene weekly passes along word that there are between 10,000 and 15,000 unsold tickets for the Indians’ Opening Day game right now. This is unprecedented in recent history. Sure, attendance has been dropping these past couple of years, but after 15+ years of strong support for the Indians, it looks like we’re heading back to the old days.
On the bright side, there used to be nothing more fun when I was in college than driving up to Cleveland on the day of a game, buying tickets at the Municipal Stadium box office ten minutes before the first pitch and getting to sit right behind home plate.
Not that the Indians ever got anything out of that.
First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.
Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.