Rafael Soriano expected to opt out of contract with Yankees

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Hardly shocking news here, but Rafael Soriano is expected to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract with the Yankees and test free agency.

Soriano has until three days after the World Series to decide whether to accept his $14 million option for next season or reject it and receive a $1.5 million buyout. Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with Soriano’s agent, Scott Boras, and while he wouldn’t definitively say his client will opt out, he did say “there is a strong chance that he would have tremendous value as a free agent.” Not difficult to read between the lines there.

Soriano, who turns 33 in December, figures to do very well in free agency after posting a 2.26 ERA, 42 saves and a 69/24 K/BB ratio over 67 2/3 innings this season while filling in for Mariano Rivera in the closer role.

The Yankees will likely make Soriano a qualifying offer if he opts for free agency in order to set themselves up for draft pick compensation. The qualifying offer is determined by the average of the top 125 salaries in the game, so it will likely be an offer in the range of $13.3-13.6 million. There’s always the chance that Soriano could accept and once again be a very expensive set-up man, but the thought is that he’ll be on the lookout for a multi-year deal on the open market.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that qualifying offers for free agents need to be worth $13.3 million.

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.