Angels, Rays discussing trade involving James Shields

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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported over the weekend that the Angels had serious interest in acquiring starter James Shields from the Rays.

And now it appears Anaheim is getting serious.

From ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian comes word that the Halos and Rays have discussed a trade that would send Shields out west in exchange for center fielder Peter Bourjos and catcher Hank Conger. But the “deal is complicated,” according to Kurkjian’s source, because money would also have to be involved and struggling right-hander Ervin Santana might somehow be worked into the mix.

Shields, 30, has posted an ugly 4.39 ERA in 131 1/3 innings this season despite a sparkling 124/39 K/BB ratio. His contract carries a $9 million club option for 2013 and a $12 million club option for 2014.

Bourjos, 25, is an elite defender who has been made expendable by the rise of Mike Trout. Conger is a 24-year-old former first-round pick who boasts a .298/.360/.463 career batting line in the minor leagues.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.