Reunited: Delmon Young signs with the Rays

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As soon as the Phillies released Delmon Young last week there was speculation that the Rays might be interested in reuniting with their one-time top prospect and sure enough Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the two sides have agreed to a deal.

According to Rosenthal it’s a minor-league contract and Young will head to Double-A, presumably with an eye toward getting a September call-up once rosters expand. He’s still being paid by the Phillies, so the Rays got Young for basically nothing.

As an everyday player Young is a mess, dragging a team down offensively and defensively, but as a cheap part-timer used mostly as a designated hitter versus left-handed pitching he can still be somewhat useful. For his career Young has hit .306 with an .820 OPS versus lefties, which is more than 100 points higher than his OPS versus righties, and it’s hard to imagine the always defense-driven Rays being willing to watch him stumble around in the outfield.

Tampa Bay drafted Young first overall out of high school in 2003 and he played one-and-a-half seasons with the Rays before they traded him to the Twins for a package that included Matt Garza. Six hugely disappointing years later he returns to Tampa Bay not as a highly paid star, but as someone trying to save his career with a low-paid bench gig.

Last time Young played for Double-A Montgomery in the Rays’ farm system? Back in 2005, when he was 19 years old and hit .336 with 20 homers in 84 games. The next spring Baseball America named him the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball.

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.