What should the Yankees do with Jesus Montero?

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Jesus Montero.jpgThe Daily News had an in-depth article about Yankees’ catching prospect Jesus Montero over the weekend. The focus follows the standard Montero storyline: kid can hit a ton, but his defense is lacking. As you might expect, there’s lots of stuff in there about bruised arms from ball-in-the-dirt drills, speculation as to whether he can hack it at first base, etc. Good story.

And while this is probably no surprise to Yankees fans and prospect hawks, I was unaware of how much catching depth the Bombers have in the minors:

The Yankees have so much catching depth in their minor-league system
that, as good as Jesus Montero is, he may not be Jorge Posada’s
eventual replacement. Four of the Yanks’ top eight prospects, according
to Baseball America, are catchers.

Maybe it’s Austin Romine, last year’s Florida State League player of the year who Baseball America tabbed as the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect behind Montero. Or Gary Sanchez (No. 7), who signed for $3 million as an international free agent, or J.R. Murphy (No. 8). Maybe it’s 19-year-old Kyle Higashoika.

“I’ve never seen so many good young catchers together,” says Julio
Mosquera, the Yankees’ minor-league catching coordinator. “I tell these
guys, ‘The sky is the limit for you.’ “

There’s not much more valuable in baseball than a good young catcher, and though the Yankees have been forfeiting draft picks due to free agent signings and picking late for years, that kind of depth could be plenty to keep the talent flowing into the Bronx for years. Indeed, this winter it was widely reported that the Yankees offered Montero for Roy Halladay.

Whether that simply wasn’t rich enough for the Jays or whether they simply didn’t want to trade Doc within the division is unclear, but you can bet that at some point someone is going to trade the Yankees an expensive stud veteran for Montero or one of the other prospects.

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.