The Yankees may give Halladay a miss

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The New York Times’ Tyler Kepner thinks that the Yankees may pass up the chance to trade for Roy Halladay:

Don’t expect the Yankees to make their Halladay strategy public – why
not keep other teams guessing? – but the early prediction here is that
they will not get him. History is a guide, and though Joba Chamberlain
and Phil Hughes were not always consistent last season, they showed
progress toward becoming the aces the Yankees envision. And for a team
that wants to get younger, it would seem foolish to trade a future ace
and the few dynamic position players the Yankees have in their farm
system.

I see where Kepner is coming from: given the way they passed on Johan Santana and waited for CC Sabathia to become a free agent as opposed to trading for him, it would appear that the Yankees are no longer in sign-everything-that-moves mode. They make considered judgments and all of that. In Kepner’s words, the Yankees are not desperate and won’t act is if they are.

But Halladay is a different beast than Sabathia and Santana, right? The Yankees passed on Santana for the simple reason that they knew Sabathia would come available the next year. At the same time, they were able to wait on Sabathia because they knew they were well-positioned to sign him when he hit the market.

Contrast that with the Halladay situation: there isn’t another arm like Halladay’s that will come available next season. Unlike Sabathia, Halladay and the Blue Jays are entertaining a window in which to sign an extension prior to any trade being completed.  Upshot: If they Yankees don’t act to get Halladay now, they will not get him.

I like the idea of giving Chamberlain and Hughes a chance, and Kepner mentions that the Yankees probably need to think about getting younger. But their youth cuts both ways: younger is better, but doesn’t it also make sense to try and squeeze a couple more championships out of the Jeter-Rodriguez-Posada-Teixeira-Sabathia core?  With Halladay in the fold, they’d be favorites for that for the next 4-5 years. With Chamberlain and Hughes, there are no guarantees.

Reds sign Ryan Raburn to minor league deal

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 10:  Ryan Raburn #6 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his solo home run off of James Shields #33 of the San Diego Padres to take a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 10, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.

Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.

Dexter Fowler unhappy with President Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.

Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.

Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:

One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”

Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:

Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.

These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”

Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.

As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.

Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.