Cole Hamels wants to pitch with Cliff Lee, Cliff Lee could be traded

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Or: Great Moments in mildly b.s. justifications for accepting a giant contract. First, Jerry Crasnick:

Then, Jon Paul Morosi:

Four general managers of other clubs told FOXSports.com Wednesday that Lee is not yet formally available, but other executives expect Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will consider offers for the left-hander leading up to next Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline.

Rival team officials believe Amaro has little choice but to at least explore the market for Lee, who has three years and $87.5 million left on his contract after this season.

Cole Hamels is no idiot. He knows, like every other player knows, that one cannot choose one’s teammates and that someone who is here today may very well be — actually, almost certainly will be — gone tomorrow.  If Hamels actually told his agent “hey, I wanna sign because Cliff Lee is there,” his agent would have smacked him over the head and told him to grow up.

There are only two relevant reasons why Cliff Lee signed with Philly: the money was where it needed to be and he likes the organization. Maybe throw in the city itself. Point is, it’s not the teammates or, more to the point, their future tenure with the team.  Saying so is a nice bit of morale boosting in the clubhouse, it may be a nice thing to say about friends on the team and it certainly gives the media an answer to the “why did you sign” question that isn’t “$144 million, dudes!”

But there’s no way that kind of thing can reasonably be a determining factor unless you assume — which you should not assume — that Cole Hamels just fell off the turnip truck and doesn’t know that anyone can be dealt at any time.

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.