Royals add Dillon Gee to 40-man roster before opt-out date

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UPDATE: Kansas City has added Gee to the 40-man roster, so his ultimatum got the job done. He won’t be opting out.

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Dillon Gee‘s minor-league contract with the Royals includes an opt-out clause and Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports that the veteran right-hander has told the team he will use it if he’s not added to the 40-man roster within the next 48 hours.

Kansas City could add Gee to the 40-man roster without exposing anyone to waivers by shifting left-hander Mike Minor to the 60-day disabled list. They’d only do so if they felt Gee was worth keeping around, obviously, but early indications are that the Royals have been impressed by how he looks coming off an injury wrecked season with the Mets.

Gee’s deal is non-guaranteed, but if he cracks the Opening Day roster it would be worth $2 million in upfront money and as much as $5 million once incentives are factored in. He spent the first six seasons of his career as a starter for the Mets, posting a 4.03 ERA and 489/216 K/BB ratio in 679 innings through age 29.

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.