Nolan Arenado, Rockies unlikely to reach extension this spring

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The Rockies don’t appear to be in any rush to extend perennial Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado, the third baseman said Sunday. Arenado told reporters that he doesn’t see any extension talks resuming until the 2018 season concludes, adding, “We have a good team and our focus is on winning — as it should be — and that’s what everyone wants.”

The 26-year-old infielder is slated to remain under team control through 2019, so there’s no pressure to get a deal done right away. Still, it makes sense to lock up a talent like Arenado’s before he hits free agency in 2020. Over five seasons with the club, he’s proven his prowess time and again, netting three All-Star nominations, five Gold Glove awards and consideration for both Rookie of the Year and MVP. He slashed .309/.373/.586 with 37 home runs and an NL-best 27 doubles in 680 plate appearances last year, and FanGraphs ranked his defense at the hot corner as third-best in the league in 2017.

Arenado is currently finishing off the tail end of the two-year, $29.5 million contract he signed with the club last January. He’ll receive a $17.5 million paycheck in 2018 and enter arbitration in advance of the 2019 season. While another season of Arenado’s .300+ average, 5.0+ fWAR ways could give the Rockies more peace of mind as they contemplate an expensive long-term arrangement, it could also give the All-Star third baseman more incentive to test free agency in the years to come.

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.