Agent Scott Boras leveled a shot at the Marlins and other teams this week in asserting that rebuilding teams have become a “competitive cancer” that caused a four percent drop in big league attendance this past season.
Boras, who speaks to a throng of reporters every year at the November general manager’s meetings, noted that Louisiana State’s baseball team had a higher average attendance for its 37 home games than the Miami Marlins did for their 81 — 10,786 to 10,014.
For the first time, the Marlins this season included only people who were actually at the game in their attendance figures. Previous ownership included all tickets distributed in their reported attendance figures.
“The fans of Florida have certainly brought the MIA to Miami,” Boras told reporters at the ongoing GM meetings in Carlsbad, California.
Boras took shots at others, cracking that when “the divisional clubs come to Minnesota, it’s gotten so bad that only one of the Twins shows up.”
He mentioned that the Toronto Blue Jays, whose attendance plunged by 878,000 fans to 2.33 million, “lost near a third of their fan base due to the blue flu of not bringing attractive players the fans find interesting to their market.”
Seventeen teams experienced drops in attendance last season and MLB attendance dipped to 28,830, its lowest since 2003 after 14 consecutive seasons topping 30,000.
For the first time in big-league history, eight teams lost at least 95 games. That included the Marlins, who went 63-98.
The Marlins declined to respond to Boras’ comments.
Why does this matter to Boras? Because the more rebuilding teams there are, the fewer there are who are willing to bid enormous dollar amounts for his pricey free agents.
Ironically, a Boras client has the largest remaining contract on the Marlins’ books, with pitcher Wei-Yin Chen due $20 million and $22 million during the next two seasons in a deal given to him by previous Marlins ownership.
Chen also has a conditional 2021 option for $16 million that will be exercised if he 1) has 180 innings pitched in 2020 or 360 innings pitcher in 2019-20 and 2) is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2020 season, and 3) is healthy for 2021 spring training.
Sirius XM commentator and former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden reported the Marlins are prepared to trade catcher J.T. Realmuto — who would like to be traded — and lists the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers as teams that “have all touched base” with Miami management.
The Marlins have scouted minor-leaguers on all of those teams, with Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker among prospects the Marlins are believed to like.
Sirius XM’s Craig Mish, citing sources, said the Marlins would like a “high-end young pitching prospect and a position player” in exchange for Realmuto.
Realmuto might have been willing to consider an offer in the five-year, $100 million range, but the Marlins didn’t go that high when the sides discussed numbers recently.
Realmuto is currently with manager Don Mattingly as part of a group of MLB players touring and playing games in Japan.
▪ Monte Harrison (.328, 16 RBI) has looked very good in the Arizona fall league and will have a chance to win a starting outfield job in spring training, though it seems more likely he would begin next season at Triple A.
Harrison, one of four prospects acquired in last winter’s Christian Yelich trade with Milwaukee, hit .240 with 19 homers, 48 RBI and 28 steals but also 215 strikeouts at Class AA Jacksonville.
Harrison’s 36.9 percent strikeout rate remains the biggest concern. He has 16 strikeouts, 10 walks in 61 at-bats in the fall league.
“Monte is off to a tremendous start,” Marlins president/baseball operations Michael Hill said Tuesday on WINZ-940’s offseason Marlins program.
“An area we challenged him is to cut his strikeouts down. He has nearly as many walks as strikeouts [entering the week]. We’re excited.”
Pitcher Jordan Yamamoto (2.57 ERA five starts in the Arizona fall league) also continues to impress after a strong close to 2018.
“Jordan was the fourth piece in the Christian Yelich trade, a tremendous feel for pitch, command of all three of his pitches,” Hill said. “Undefeated as starter in the fall league.”
He was 6-1 with a 1.83 ERA in 13 starts at three levels last season, topping out at Double A.
Beyond Harrison and Yamamoto, the Marlins also acquired outfielder Lewis Brinson and minor-league infielder Isan Diaz in that Yelich deal.