Maybe Molina just didn't want to play for the Mets

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MetsBlog.com’s Matthew Cerrone wrote an interesting article about Bengie Molina’s surprising decision to return to the Giants yesterday after seemingly being all but signed with the Mets.
Molina inked a one-year, $4.5 million deal with San Francisco, but Cerrone reports that New York’s offer–which was made in mid-December–included $1 million more in salary for this season and a player option for 2011. So why would a 35-year-old catcher who didn’t draw a ton of interest as a free agent spurn a more lucrative multi-year offer?

In talking with a few people around baseball, it sounds to me like Bengie Molina always wanted to return to the Giants, or are at least he wanted play with a team on the West Coast. Also, as the offseason moved on, Molina became more and more skeptical of playing in New York. I had some people suggest he might have become leery of fan and media criticism, while another person speculated he was scared off by how Carlos Beltran’s surgery was communicated in the press, saying, “Players talk.”

There was similar speculation about Jason Bay’s lack of interest in the Mets, except for Bay at least more money and more years eventually won out and he signed a four-year, $66 million deal with New York. Of course, as Cerrone notes most Mets fans weren’t all that keen on signing Molina in the first place and they might be better off turning their attention to Yorvit Torrealba or even going with some combination of Henry Blanco, Omir Santos, and Josh Thole behind the plate for a fraction of the cost.

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

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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.