Dusty Baker frustrated by ‘dwindling’ number of black baseball players

Dusty Baker
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Today is Jackie Robinson Day, commemorating the day in 1947 in which the former Dodgers second baseman broke baseball’s color barrier. His number, 42, has been retired throughout the league in 1997, though Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was allowed to continue wearing the number as he was grandfathered in. In the time since, players have begun all wearing the number 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.

Sadly, the percentage of black players in baseball has been on the decline. 7.7 percent of players on Opening Day rosters last year were black. According to SABR, black players haven’t been above 10 percent since 2004. They peaked at 18.7 percent in 1981.

Astros manager Dusty Baker is one of only two black managers in baseball along with the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts. Baker finds the lack of black players in the sport “frustrating,” Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press reports.

Baker said, “Hopefully in this decade and the next decade there will be more guys that get a chance. All they need is a chance. A lot of guys have been bypassed and overlooked.”

The issue is extremely complex and there are myriad factors for the lack of black players in baseball: political, social, and economic. Major League Baseball has, in recent years, made a concerted effort to reach out to a more diverse audience, but seeing that result in a player population change will likely take a while.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.