Elvis Andrus doesn’t want to opt out of contract in 2019

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Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he doesn’t intend to approach 2018 as a free agent year. The 29-year-old has an opt-out clause lurking at the end of the 2018 season, one that would allow him to walk away from a guaranteed $58 million over the next four years in order to seek a more lucrative contract elsewhere.

That certainly could be an enticing possibility, especially if Andrus continues to build on the career-best numbers he produced in 2017. He slashed .297/.337/.471 with 25 stolen bases in 689 plate appearances and set new personal records with 20 home runs and 4.1 fWAR. Per FanGraphs, his breakout performance made him the fifth-most valuable shortstop in the league. Even considering next season’s stacked class of free agents, it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t be able to find a taker.

Still, Andrus said Friday, he’d prefer to play out the rest of his career in Arlington than seek another deal through free agency. “This is a year that I”m going to try to be better than last year. That’s my mentality,” he told Wilson. “I want to be here. I want to retire here. Everyone knows that.” For what it’s worth, neither the Rangers nor Andrus’ agent Scott Boras appear to have initiated a serious discussion about a new deal for the veteran infielder, though there’s expected to be interest on both sides.

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.