Pitchers and catchers may be reporting, but there are a lot of free agents left

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Today is cool in that, for many teams, it’s pitchers and catchers reporting day. But it’s not so cool for all sorts of players still sitting in free agent limbo. Indeed, it seems like there are a lot more players — and especially a lot more good or at least useful players — still looking for work than usually is the case in mid-to-late February.

Some of this is because players are asking too much. Some of it is because players may still have draft pick compensation tied to them as a result of their rejecting a qualifying offer. There are, for any given player, reasons for why they’re still unemployed. It just seems like a lot of ’em. Among the notables, either in quality or at least in name recognition:

Dexter Fowler
Ian Desmond
David Freese
Austin Jackson
Alfredo Simon
Juan Uribe
Pedro Alvarez
Domonic Brown
Jeff Francoeur

Some of those dudes, like Francoeur and Freese, are just roster filler. Others are fliers or reclamation projects like Brown. Others like Fowler and Desmond, however, seem like dudes who could really help a lot of teams right now. Either way, they’re all names you likely would’ve bet would be on someone’s roster by February 17. And you have to figure they and their agents are getting antsy.

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.