Johan Santana is “angry” and “bitter” toward the Mets

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Things are getting weird between the Mets and Johan Santana.

Santana has yet to make his spring debut because he is still in the process of building strength in his shoulder. The Mets were caught off guard that the veteran southpaw wasn’t in pitching shape upon reporting to camp, which is all the more curious considering that he wanted to pitch for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson went public with his disappointment last weekend, which resulted in Santana reportedly irking the team by throwing unscheduled from a mound just one day later.

While Santana has scaled back his throwing program in recent days, making a trip to the disabled list inevitable, it’s clear that he is not over how the situation was handled.

Santana is a competitor, so it’s not surprising to learn that he’s still peeved by the perception that he showed up to spring training out of shape. The Mets have every reason to be frustrated if he wasn’t where they thought he’d be when spring training began, but perhaps Alderson should have recognized the possibility that Santana would take his comments personally and divert from the plan. Who knows what was said behind closed doors, but this appears to be a failure of communication on both sides. Of course, if Santana comes back at some point in April and pitches well, this drama will all be forgotten.

Santana, 33, is owed $25 million this season while his $25 million club option for next season includes a $5.5 million buyout.

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.