Diamondbacks sign Marc Rzepczynski, Ricky Nolasco to minor league deals

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The Diamondbacks have inked two free agent relievers to minor league pacts, the team announced Friday. Both left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and right-hander Ricky Nolasco will receive spring training invites.

Rzepczynski, 33, has not pitched anything close to a full season since 2016. He labored through a handful of games with the Mariners and Indians in 2018 and closed out the year with a disappointing 11 runs, 10 walks, and 11 strikeouts through 10 1/3 innings pitched. His short-lived stints in Triple-A ball yielded mixed results, too, and he didn’t appear to attract wide interest from depth-starved clubs after holding a pitching showcase last month. While he may not be the lights-out lefty specialist of seasons past, however, he could still prove useful to the D-backs if he can inch toward the sub-3.00 ERA and 0.5-fWAR threshold he once cleared with ease.

Nolasco, like Rzepczynski, has a few hurdles left to clear in order to earn a spot on the D-backs Opening Day roster. The 36-year-old righty didn’t make it out of the Royals’ camp last spring, and spent the entire season on the major and minor league sidelines after posting a 4.92 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9, and 0.8 fWAR with the Angels in 2017. There’s no certainty that he’ll make it any further this time around, but it would be surprising if he turned in worse results than the 19.64 ERA, 7.3 BB/9, and 4.9 SO/9 he managed last March.

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.