Francisco Rodriguez

Mets and Brewers both win in Francisco Rodriguez deal

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As Matthew noted a little earlier, the Mets have traded Francisco Rodriguez and cash considerations to the Brewers for two players to be named later.

Who the Mets eventually get in return here is really secondary to what the trade accomplishes for the club. This is all about shedding his $17.5 million option for 2012, which vests if he reaches 55 games finished this season. He was already at 34 at the All-Star break, which would have put him on pace to get there with ease during the second half of the season. Of course, no reasonable baseball observer expected Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to let him get there. He likely would have tried to avoid the option, even if the Wilpons weren’t in a bind financially.

Rodriguez’s alliance with new agent Scott Boras this week was a strong indication that the wheels were already in motion behind the scenes. While Boras tried to scare off potential suitors yesterday by asking, “Does anyone want an unhappy setup man in their clubhouse?” it’s actually in K-Rod’s best interest to behave and pitch well in a set-up role, since he’ll almost certainly be a free agent this winter. Unless John Axford blows his arm out (which is always possible, I suppose), there’s no way the Brewers will let him finish 21 games.

The Brewers signed 41-year-old Takashi Saito over the winter to serve as a set-up man for Axford, but injuries have limited him to just five appearances this season. Meanwhile, Rodriguez is 12 years younger and much more durable. While he doesn’t throw as hard as he once did, K-Rod has a quality 3.16 ERA and 46/16 K/BB ratio over 42 2/3 innings this season. Last year’s assault charge aside, he’s still a very capable relief pitcher.

Brewers fans should be excited about this trade, as it’s yet another indication that GM Doug Melvin is doing everything he can to put the team in a position to win right now. And he should, since All-Star Game MVP Prince Fielder will be a free agent following the season.

The Mets are in some uncertain times as far as finances go, so it’s hard to say what sort of payroll they’ll be operating with next season. But what we do know is that Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo will all officially be off the books. That’s approximately $50 million between four players. I’m not saying that the Mets will definitely keep Jose Reyes, but this trade at least puts them in better financial position to negotiate.

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.