Jim Thome is waiting by the phone

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Jim Thome’s name hasn’t come up much this offseason, which is somewhat surprising for a guy who hit .249/.386/.481 with 23 homers in 434 plate appearances last year and yet not all that surprising given that he hasn’t played first base regularly since 2005.
Thome still crushes right-handed pitching, but as a 39-year-old designated hitter who’s borderline useless against left-handed pitching and offers only an emergency option at first base his potential suitors are very limited. Thome seems to have realized this three months into the offseason and made it clear yesterday that he’s basically just hoping the White Sox give him a call after dealing him to the Dodgers for the stretch run:

My door is open. All you’ve got to do is call me. We’ll see what happens. Obviously in baseball, I’ve learned that sometimes business moves are made and business decisions are made and you have to respect those decisions and move on. I want to play baseball. Right now, we’re talking to a few teams, so we’ll see what happens. It’s been a slow winter in the market, so we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and move forward.

While certainly not the MVP-caliber offensive monster he once was, Thome remains very dangerous when spotted versus righties. Against them he batted .262/.383/.498 in 2009 and .274/.402/.552 with an average of 39 homers per 500 from 2007-2009. There are plenty of teams for whom that production would be a huge upgrade, including the White Sox, but manager Ozzie Guillen has said that he wants to keep the DH spot open for a rotation of Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones, and Mark Kotsay.

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.