Opening Day attendance down 3.4 percent

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BizOfBaseball.com’s Maury Brown crunched the numbers on the 30 different home openers this season and reports that attendance was down 3.4 percent compared to the same 30 home openers last year.
That amounts to an average of about 1,500 fewer fans per team, although as Brown notes some of that was inevitable because of the Twins moving to their new, lower-capacity ballpark.
Last year Minnesota drew 48,514 fans for the final home opener at the Metrodome, whereas this year the Twins drew 38,145 fans for the first home opener at Target Field.
However, those 38,145 fans represent a sellout at Target Field and that number also doesn’t include another 1,570 attendees that the Twins classified as media members, comped tickets, and VIP guests. In all, there were 39,715 people watching the Twins beat the Red Sox on Monday afternoon, which was a full house and then some.
I was one of those uncounted 1,570 at the game and there’s zero doubt that the Twins could have easily sold 50,000-plus tickets (and maybe a whole lot more than that) if they had the room. However, as Brown reports even if you remove the Twins’ new ballpark issue from the equation home opener attendance for the other 29 teams was down 2.6 percent compared to last season despite some pretty nice weather across baseball.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.