If the Marlins choose to sell, start with Anibal Sanchez

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While we’ve heard reports today that the Marlins may soon move their closer, Leo Nunez, there’s no fire sale in store for Florida this summer, not with the new ballpark opening next April.

Still, there’s something to say for striking while the iron is hot, and it’s never likely to be hotter for Anibal Sanchez.  Despite struggling in his final two starts before the break, Sanchez is 6-2 with a 3.58 ERA this season.  Capable of overmatching lineups when he’s on, he took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Rockies in April and into the seventh against the Nationals in May.

Sanchez, though, has a long history of injury.  From 2007-09, he made just 32 starts in three seasons because of shoulder problems.  He’s been healthy the last year and a half, but he’s struggled to bounce back on normal rest this season.  On four days’ rest, he has a 4.57 ERA in 11 starts.  On five or more days’ rest, he has a 2.01 ERA in six starts.

My feeling is that Sanchez is going to be a terrible risk on a long-term deal, and while he may well be able to help the Marlins contend next year in his final season before free agency, he’d be better utilized as trade bait.  The Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Rangers and Rockies are among the teams likely to have interest if he’s made available.

For what it’s worth, the Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez doesn’t think Sanchez will be traded.  Still, if it’d bring two top prospects in return, the Marlins should make the move.

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.