Rays avoid arbitration with Alex Cobb, Jake McGee, Brandon Guyer

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MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the Rays have avoided arbitration with right-hander Alex Cobb, reliever Jake McGee, and outfielder Brandon Guyer.

Cobb, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May and missed the entire season, will receive a $4 million salary. This matches what he made through the arbitration process last winter. He figures to be in rehab mode for most of this season, but the Rays have him under team control through 2017. The 28-year-old owns a 3.21 ERA over his first 81 starts in the majors and was considered the Rays’ ace going into last year.

Coming off a 2.41 ERA a 48/8 K/BB ratio over 37 1/3 innings last season, McGee will earn $4.8 million in 2016. It’s a nice raise from the $3.55 million he made in 2015. With the 29-year-old getting more expensive through the arbitration process, it’s easy to understand why the Rays have had him and Brad Boxberger on the block this winter. Like Cobb, McGee will be eligible for free agency after 2017.

Guyer, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, will get $1.185 million in 2016. He played well in a part-time role last season, batting .265/.359/.413 with eight home runs, 28 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 128 games.

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.