Royals sign Kyle Zimmer

Kyle Zimmer
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The Royals signed right-hander Kyle Zimmer to a one-year major league contract, the team announced Friday. It’s a split deal, according to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, who says Zimmer is due the minimum $555,000 if he sticks in the majors and $124,000 if the club chooses to stash him in the minors again.

It’s been a slow and arduous road to the Show for the 27-year-old righty, who has yet to reach the majors after six years in the Royals’ farm system. In 2016, he underwent surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in his pitching arm, then worked his way up to Triple-A Omaha for the first time in 2017. He didn’t pitch a single inning at any level in 2018, however, opting instead to undergo an intensive training program with Driveline Baseball in the hopes that he could avoid additional shoulder and arm injuries going forward. It’s clear the Royals saw enough progress from Zimmer that they feel he’ll be capable of handling a major-league role come spring, though he also has an option remaining on his contract should things start to go south again.

In a corresponding move, corner infielder Cheslor Cuthbert has been designated for assignment. The 26-year-old rounded out a four-year campaign with the Royals in 2018, slashing a career-worst .194/.282/.301 with three home runs and seven RBI across 117 PA.

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.