Who will be this winter’s Kyle Lohse?

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Attached to draft pick compensation, right-hander Kyle Lohse waited out the entire winter before eventually landing a three-year, $33 million contract from the Brewers in March. A Scott Boras client, he was reportedly aiming for a three-year, $45 million deal at the start of the offseason, but his market was severely limited due to the draft pick situation. Could we see a repeat this winter with a different Boras client?

In a preview of next week’s Winter Meetings, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com quotes executives who believe that Kendrys Morales will have a hard time finding a deal in this market.

Kendrys Morales: In a market almost devoid of power, you would think Morales would be a popular figure. But he, too, has that lose-a-draft-pick stigma attached. And NL teams view him, for the most part, as a guy who needs to stay in the AL because of health and defense worries. So almost no one saw him signing any time soon.

“He’s in trouble,” said one AL exec. And one NL executive made it clear how much he agreed — by picking March 20 as Morales’ signing date, unless the Mariners strike out on the other bats they’re chasing and bring him back. “I think he has all the makings,” the exec said, “of this year’s Kyle Lohse.”

This isn’t really a second-guessing situation, as many thought that Morales was better off accepting the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Mariners rather than testing free agency. He has mostly been a DH since his lower leg injury, so he’s best-suited for the American League. That cuts the number of potential fits right away. Add in the draft pick, and well, Morales could be waiting a while.

Morales, 30, hit .277/.336/.449 with 23 home runs and 80 RBI over 156 games this past season.

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.