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Hank Aaron thinks Colin Kaepernick is getting “a raw deal”

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There’s a lot of passion on both sides of the ongoing Colin Kaepernick saga, with supporters contending that the protesting quarterback is being blackballed by the NFL and detractors, somewhat inconsistently, alternating between arguing that (1) it’s not a political thing, he’s just not good enough to play; (2) teams don’t need the “distraction” he provides; and (3) he’s an un-American ingrate who outta be put on a rocket and blasted into the sun (or something).

One argument I’ve heard frequently from Kaepernick detractors is that it’d be silly to believe that team owners and executives would avoid signing a player they believe would help their team because all team owners and executives care about is winning. Ergo, the argument goes, it must be based on his skills as a quarterback.

I don’t now enough about football to argue intelligently about that, but one man who has spent decades as a high-ranking front office executive for a professional sports team has no trouble believing that owners would spite themselves by avoiding Kaepernick: Hank Aaron.

Aaron, who is the Atlanta Braves senior vice-president and who has served in various other capacities for the club for years, says Kaepernick is “getting a raw deal,” and that  the reason Kaepernick isn’t signed is due to the wishes of the team owners. He added that he’d like to see other players join Kaepernick’s protests.

I’m not suggesting that Hank Aaron could go and be the GM of an NFL team tomorrow or that he is some authoritative voice when it comes to a man’s football skills, but (a) the guy knows more about discrimination and injustice in sports than anyone else alive; and (b) has been in a front office for nearly 40 years. That he has no trouble whatsoever believing that an athlete is getting blackballed should make those who think such a thing is impossible take notice. At the very least, it’s worth taking his views on the matter seriously.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.