Pirates eyeing Rick Ankiel?

Leave a comment

According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates expect to be active in the free agent market, with potential targets including John Grabow, who they traded to the Cubs in July, and Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel.



This is a clear indicator that the
Pirates are beginning to shuffle their cards. Garrett Jones has
surprised with 19 home runs in 265 at-bats, however, he is 28 years
old, so there is little hope for further progression. Jones has played
69 games this season, but 20 of them have come at first base, so there
is a chance he could be used in more of a utility role in 2010, with
Jeff Clement getting his feet wet at first base and 20-year-old
top-prospect Jose Tabata potentially finding his way to the majors by
early June.




Ankiel is an interesting target who
may come on the cheap. Reason being, he is batting just .234/.286/.390
with 11 home runs and 37 RBI in 351 at-bats this season. With young
Colby Rasmus carving out an everyday role, the Cardinals have little
reason to bring him back. If Tabata proves himself to be a competent
corner outfielder — something that is still open to debate — the
Pirates could always trade Ankiel to a contender if he has a
bounceback season.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

Rick Yeatts/Getty Images
36 Comments

In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.