Bruce Maxwell, Mets nearing deal (source)

July 28th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Catcher , who made headlines in 2017 when he kneeled during the national anthem in Oakland, was finalizing a Minor League deal on Tuesday to join the Mets. A source said the deal will become official once Maxwell passes a physical and undergoes intake testing, at which point he will join the Mets’ alternate training site in Brooklyn. The Mets did not comment on the deal because it is not official.

Maxwell recently told ESPN that he believes he missed out on opportunities in the Major Leagues because of his decision to kneel.

“It eats at me,” Maxwell said. “I find a way to still get my work done, but it still eats at me.”

Maxwell was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in October 2017. He later reached a plea agreement and was sentenced to community service.

Maxwell, 29, hit .240/.314/.347 over parts of three seasons with the A’s from 2016-18.

He spent last season playing internationally, batting .325 for the Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League, then appearing in both the Mexican and Dominican Winter Leagues.

With the Mets, Maxwell can provide catching depth behind the three backstops on their active 30-man roster, Wilson Ramos, Tomás Nido and René Rivera. The Mets have a fourth catcher, prospect Ali Sánchez, already in Brooklyn, but it’s possible they could lose some of their depth soon. The team will find it more difficult to carry three catchers when Major League Baseball pares active rosters from 30 down to 28, and finally 26 players later this season. It could force the Mets to designate either Nido or Rivera for assignment.

Roster move
To clear space on their 40-man roster for Tuesday's starter, , the Mets designated reliever for assignment.

A former 11th-round pick of the Mets in 2013, Bashlor earned his first call-up five years later, impressing the team with his upper-90s fastball and big breaking ball. But Bashlor took a step back the following season, walking 17 batters in 22 innings en route to a 6.95 ERA. Bashlor earned a promotion to the Mets' active roster earlier this week, but he did not appear in a game.

"Some of the challenges that he's had is he's an over-doer," manager Luis Rojas said. "The fastball has always been there. To manage to be a mixer as well, even though you're a guy that can flash a good velocity like he always did throughout the Minors … that's been the challenge that he's had."

Rather than stay patient with Bashlor, the Mets DFA'd the right-hander in a move that could end his tenure with the club. Because injuries and the coronavirus have thinned pitching staffs around the league, teams have been snapping up most live arms that land on the waiver wire. The club already lost one pitcher, lefty starter Stephen Gonsalves, to a waiver claim earlier this week.

The Mets should also have additional difficult 40-man decisions in the near future. Whenever they activate relievers and , the club will need to add them to the 40-man roster. The team could clear one spot by shifting to the 45-day DL due to lingering left knee issues, but that would keep him sidelined until September.

Brach's return is not imminent as he works his arm back into shape following a COVID-19 diagnosis, but Hughes could join the team relatively soon. He threw a live bullpen session over the weekend.

Player pool additions
The Mets on Tuesday added right-handers Pedro Payano and Yefry Ramírez to their 60-man player pool, which now has 59 members. Both Payano and Ramírez signed Minor League deals in the offseason.

Payano is a 25-year-old with starting experience who pitched in shorter relief stints during Spring Training. He last appeared in a Major League game last season for the Rangers, posting a 5.75 ERA over six appearances (four starts). Ramírez, 26, was not in big league camp this spring, but he also has MLB experience -- most recently with the Orioles and Pirates last season.

Staying safe by staying behind
Because and were not due to pitch this week in Boston, they did not make the trip to New England. Instead, deGrom and Matz threw their bullpen sessions at Citi Field, where they will pitch Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Back on the bench
's reward for hitting a three-run homer in his first start of the season on Monday? A seat back on the bench for Tuesday's finale in Boston. Needing to get back in the lineup following a one-day respite, Rojas started him at DH over Smith, who was one of their hottest hitters in Summer Camp.

"All I told him was, 'Stay hot, kid,'" Rojas said. "He will get his chances to start, but at the same time, we're counting on him to come off the bench and contribute."

In addition to DH, the Mets could use Smith at first base to give a half-day off at DH, or they could start him in left field over .