Aaron Cook has a 1.33 ERA at Triple-A, can opt out of Red Sox contract on May 1

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Aaron Cook turned in another strong start at Triple-A yesterday, allowing one unearned run in seven innings, and now sports a 1.33 ERA after four starts in Pawtucket.

Cook has a clause in his minor-league contract with the Red Sox that allows him to opt out and become a free agent again if he’s not in the majors by May 1, although he could choose not to use it and give Boston a bit more time to make a decision on his status.

Cook offered no hints about which way he’s leaning, telling Rob Bradford of WEEI.com: “I’ll make a decision when I feel like it’s time to make a decision. I haven’t made a decision yet.”

Obviously a 33-year-old veteran dominating Triple-A competition doesn’t mean he’s ready to do the same in the majors, but Cook looks like his old, pre-injury self with a low-90s fastball and tons of ground balls. In a decade with the Rockies he posted a 4.53 ERA in 1,312 innings, including a 4.39 ERA away from Coors Field, so if the Red Sox don’t think they can use him as a fourth or fifth starter there should be at least a few other teams that see a better fit.

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.