Jake Peavy

Red Sox, White Sox, Tigers finalize three-team Jake Peavy deal

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It’s official. The Red Sox have acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox and reliever Brayan Villarreal from the Tigers as part of a three-team trade. The Tigers picked up shortstop Jose Iglesias from Boston. The White Sox are getting outfielder Avisail Garcia from the Tigers and three lower level prospects from the Red Sox: shortstop Cleuluis Rondon, RHP Francellis Montas and RHP Jeffrey Wendelken.

The addition of Peavy, who is owed $14.5 million next year, gives Boston added protection in case Clay Buchholz struggles to return from his neck problems down the stretch. It’s expensive insurance, though, with no guarantee that Peavy is much of an upgrade over Ryan Dempster or Felix Doubront in a projected four-man postseason rotation that also includes Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey. Of course, the Red Sox have to worry about reaching the postseason first.

Peavy is 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA and a 76/17 K/BB ratio over 80 innings in 13 starts this season. He missed time earlier in the year with a broken rib. His biggest problem has been the home run ball  — he’s allowed 14 — but switching from U.S. Cellular to Fenway will help there.

Iglesias, a Rookie of the Year candidate who was hitting .330/.377/.409 in 215 at-bats for the Red Sox, makes a great deal of sense for Detroit with Jhonny Peralta facing a Biogenesis suspension of at least 50 games. He gives the Tigers the rangy shortstop they need to put next to Miguel Cabrera, and while Peralta may get his job back at the very end of the year, there’s little doubt that it’ll be Iglesias next year, with Peralta presumably moving on in free agency.

The 22-year-old Garcia was talked up last year as a big piece of the Tigers’ future. His resemblance to Cabrera in the batter’s box probably helped in that regard. This year, he had hit .382/.414/.549 in 144 at-bats in Triple-A, but just .241/.273/.373 in 83 at-bats in the majors, and the Tigers deemed him expendable with fellow outfield prospect Nick Castellanos also knocking on the door. Plate discipline is an issue for Garcia, and while scouts expect his power to come, his high home run total in six minor league seasons is 14. Whether the White Sox use him right away could hinge on an Alex Rios deal. For now, though, he’s been optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

The departure of Iglesias makes third base a question mark for Boston, fueling rumors that a deal for the Phillies’ Michael Young could follow. Barring a trade, the Red Sox will have to decide whether to promote Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt or No. 1 prospect Xander Bogaerts from Triple-A to pair with or, more likely, start over Brandon Snyder at third. Bogaerts, a natural shortstop, is outhitting Middlebrooks in Triple-A, but he’s played just five games at third since getting a look there earlier in the month. The Red Sox also now have to weigh in the fact that Bogaerts is again clearly the shortstop of the future with Iglesias gone.

Villarreal, going from Detroit to Boston, has a 4.56 ERA and an 86/46 K/BB ratio in 75 innings as a major leaguer. He seemed to be on his way to emerging as a key piece in the Tigers bullpen last year, but control became an especially big problem late and he was left off the postseason roster. This year has been a disaster for him, but the fresh start could do him some good. He throws 94-98 mph, so he has some upside as a short reliever.

None of the prospects going from Boston to Chicago were viewed as key pieces of the Red Sox system. Rondon, 19, was hitting .276/.326/.350 in short-season ball. Montas, 20, was 2-9 with a 5.70 ERA and a 96/32 K/BB ratio in 85 1/3 innings as a starter for low Single-A Greenville. Wendelken, 20, had a 2.77 ERA and a 54/20 K/BB ratio in 65 innings as a reliever in low-A ball.

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.