Marte traded by Marlins to Athletics for Luzardo

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI — Buried in last place in the NL East, the Miami Marlins made an impact on the AL West race with two trades.

Miami sent right-handed reliever Yimi Garcia to the Houston Astros, and traded outfielder Starling Marte to the Oakland Athletics.

The Astros sent outfielder Bryan De La Cruz and right-hander Austin Pruitt to Miami. First-place Houston began the day with a six-game lead over Oakland in the AL West.

Oakland gave up left-hander Jesus Luzardo for Marte. The Marlins will cover nearly all of Marte’s remaining contract for 2021, and he can become a free agent after this season.

“We felt like Starling was frankly the best position player that was out there on the market,” A’s general manager David Forst said before his team’s game in San Diego. “We’ve always said when the team performs and puts itself in a playoff position, it’s on us to do whatever we can to try and help them.”

The A’s also acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin this week from the Chicago Cubs.

“We’ve added two really solid pieces to help this team over the next two months,” Forst said.

For Miami, building for the future was a priority for general manager Kim Ng.

“In terms of next year, there are still moves we’d like to make,” she said. “This is not a finished group for next year. These are some of the first steps we’ve got to take.”

Marte, 32, is batting .306 with an .859 OPS and 22 stolen bases in 25 attempts. It’s the third time in 18 months that Marte has been traded, and he joins an outfield that also includes Ramon Laureano and Mark Canha.

“Trading a player of Starling’s caliber is always difficult, but you have to think of the future of the Marlins,” Ng said. “It was difficult on a lot of different fronts but I think we are happy with the return. You can never have enough pitching.”

Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman has chatted with Marte on the bases but is eager to see the speedy outfielder in action wearing the green and gold. The defending AL West champion A’s have reached the playoffs the past three seasons.

“We’re excited to have two great players come to our team and help us with this last push,” Chapman said. “The end of the season’s always tough. The teams that are in the hunt, everybody’s pushing as hard as they can, guys are adding pieces, so it’s nice to know that we’re getting some help and we’ve got two really exciting guys coming to our team. We feel good about it.”

The Marlins made the deal after they were unable to reach an agreement with Marte on a contract extension.

“New horizons open, and I will continue to give my best wherever I go,” Marte tweeted.

Garcia became a closer this season and is 3-7 with a 3.47 ERA and 15 saves in 18 chances.

Luzardo is 2-4 with a 6.87 ERA in 13 games, including six starts. He was sidelined for four weeks in May after he broke the pinkie on his pitching hand when he thumped a table while playing a video game.

Luzardo and A.J. Puk were prized left-handed prospects in Oakland’s organization.

“We’ve been an organization that’s built around pitching,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said before his team’s game in Baltimore. “To get a guy like that back at a trade deadline with huge potential is obviously a nice deal for us.”

De La Cruz is hitting .324 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs in 66 games for Triple-A Sugar Land. Pruitt is 12-9 with a 4.89 ERA in 69 games with the Astros and Tampa Bay Rays since 2017.

“We really focused in on De La Cruz, We think he’s a great add,” Ng said. “Pruitt will go right into our bullpen.”

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.