Tigers will have Jhonny Peralta play left field to prep for return from suspension

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Last week the Tigers announced that Jhonny Peralta would start working out with the team again in preparation for potentially coming back from his 50-game suspension for the playoffs, but if he does rejoin the team apparently it won’t be at shortstop.

Peralta has been the Tigers’ starting shortstop for the past three seasons, starting zero games at another position, but rookie Jose Iglesias has been a huge defensive upgrade since being acquired from the Red Sox to fill in for Peralta. And so since Iglesias obviously isn’t going anywhere, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News reports that the Tigers will have Peralta play left field in instructional league games to prepare for his return

Peralta has never played the outfield before in 11 seasons as a big leaguer, but third base (Miguel Cabrera) and first base (Prince Fielder) aren’t options and Detroit could certainly use his right-handed bat in the lineup. Before the suspension Peralta hit .305 with 11 homers and an .822 OPS in 104 games, whereas the Tigers’ left fielders (mostly Andy Dirks, with some Nick Castellanos mixed in lately) have combined to hit .263 with a .718 OPS this season.

It’s also worth noting that Peralta is a 31-year-old impending free agent, so just in terms of market value he has quite a bit riding on whether teams still view him as a shortstop or not.

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.