Yankees dropping in attendance, ratings

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Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal has some interesting figures in his latest column about the Yankees:

Through Wednesday, the average ratings for Yankee games on the YES Network were down 38% compared to the same period last season, according to Nielsen figures.

The drop is even more remarkable when you consider that last year’s ratings were the Yankees’ lowest since 2003.

In the stands, the trend has been similar, if not quite as pronounced. The Yankees are drawing an average home crowd of 39,103, still the fourth highest in baseball but a 6% drop from what it was over the same period in 2012.

The Yankees have been without most of their recognizable faces this year, namely Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, so that is one explanation. Costa also notes that the team has had to compete with the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, and Islanders as all four made the post-season in their respective sports.

Ultimately, though, despite the Yankees’ ability to hang around first place in the AL East in the face of adversity, they do have a philosophical debate to address with Robinson Cano’s pending free agency. Is their attendance and viewership buoyed by the presence of marquee players? If so, Costa writes, they may feel that keeping Cano in town no matter the price and no matter the contract length is imperative.

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.