Astros agree to trade Carlos Lee to Marlins for prospects

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UPDATE: Olney says the deal is done and Houston is getting minor leaguers Matt Dominguez, a third baseman and one-time top prospect whose stock has dropped, and Rob Rasmussen, a 2010 second-round pick with a chance to be a mid-rotation starter. All in all not a bad haul considering the Astros were just happy to shed Lee, although they’re likely paying a big chunk of his remaining money.

UPDATE #2: Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Lee’s locker in the Astros’ clubhouse is now empty, so it looks like the trade is all but official.

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Carlos Lee turned down a trade to the Dodgers last week, but the Astros have continued to shop the veteran first baseman/left fielder and Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that they’re “deep into talks” with the Marlins.

According to Olney “he has indicated a willingness to play for Miami” and a deal could be very close.

Miami first basemen have combined to hit just .206 with five homers and a .565 OPS that ranks dead last among MLB teams. In fact, no other team is below .600. They’ve turned back to Gaby Sanchez as the primary first baseman after demoting him to Triple-A earlier this season, but he’s hit just .190 with one homer in 18 games since returning to the big leagues.

Lee’s production has hardly been spectacular for a first baseman, including just five homers and a .412 slugging percentage in 65 games, but as with the Dodgers and James Loney the Marlins and Sanchez are certainly one of the few situations in which he’d represent a potential upgrade.

Lee is being paid $18.5 million in the final season of six-year, $100 million contract, so the Astros won’t be getting much in return and may have to eat a big portion of that salary.

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.