Michael Bourn rumors intensify; Braves getting ‘more involved’

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The Astros might as well continue remaking the team after trading Hunter Pence to Philadelphia, so Michael Bourn could be the next to go.  ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick claims the “Astros’ efforts to move Bourn are picking up steam,” while FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports the Braves are getting “more involved.”

Bourn is hitting .304/.364/.405 this season, and he leads the majors with 39 steals in 46 attempts.  The Reds are also thought to be very interested in him as they look for a true leadoff hitter.

Bourn probably won’t bring as much in return as Pence, in part because he’s only under control for one more year.  He makes $4.4 million this season, and he’s probably looking at a raise to $7 million or so in his final year of arbitration next season.

It was reported earlier Saturday that the Braves were willing to give up left-hander Mike Minor in a Pence deal with the Astros.  If they’re willing to surrender him for Bourn instead, they’d be the heavy favorites here.  The Braves, though, could likely get Coco Crisp instead without surrendering a top prospect.  They’re also in the mix for B.J. Upton.

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.