Nationals have made offer to Yoenis Cespedes

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Washington bid close to $200 million on outfielder Jason Heyward before he signed in mid-December with the Chicago Cubs. And the Nationals front office then made a play for Justin Upton before he inked a six-year, $132.75 million contract earlier this week with the Tigers.

It’s pretty clear that the Nationals want to make a big splash, and there’s only one top-tier free agent remaining on the open market. Connect the dots.

Here is FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal

Could the signing of free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes be the next bombshell out of Washington D.C.?

The exact market for Cespedes remains unclear, but the Nationals are indeed pursuing the slugger, according to major-league sources.

Rosenthal says the Nationals have made a formal offer to Cespedes, though it is “said to be for less than the Tigers gave Upton.” Would something in the five-year, $100-110 million range get it done?

Cespedes had the best year of his career in 2015, slashing .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 105 RBI in 159 games between the Tigers and Mets.

The 30-year-old Cuban slugger is not a great on-paper fit for the Nationals’ current roster given that veteran left fielder Jayson Werth is owed $42 million over the next two seasons, right fielder and 2015 MVP Bryce Harper is locked in through 2018, and Ben Revere was brought in this winter to share time with Michael Taylor in center field. But a trade or two could clear some room.

Cespedes is also being pursued by the White Sox and Mets, but both of those teams are reluctant to go beyond three years. It’s a winnable bidding war for the Nats, who were a major disappointment last season.

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.