Johan Santana had the ability to opt out of his contract with the Orioles at midnight tonight, but the team has convinced him to stick around.
The Orioles announced this evening that they have purchased Santana’s contract from Triple-A Norfolk and placed him on the 15-day disabled list. This means that he is officially on the team’s 40-man roster.
Reports about Santana have been positive in extended spring training, with his velocity reaching the high-80s. Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun last week that he was hoping the 35-year-old southpaw would be ready to join the team’s rotation by June 18 or 19. Santana obviously still has some hurdles to cross, but it would be quite an accomplishment to make it back to the majors after his second major shoulder surgery.
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.