Athletics

Maxwell's arrest on gun charge leaves his baseball future uncertain

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USATSI

Maxwell's arrest on gun charge leaves his baseball future uncertain

Details remained sparse Sunday afternoon and the future uncertain for A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell, who was arrested the night before in Arizona for allegedly pointing a gun at a female food delivery driver.

Maxwell was transferred from the Scottsdale city jail to Maricopa County jail Sunday morning, a Scottsdale Police Department spokesperson said, after being arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. It wasn’t immediately known when Maxwell might make his initial court appearance.

The woman making the allegation claimed Maxwell pointed a gun at her Saturday night, and Maxwell was taken into custody at his Scottsdale home at roughly 6 p.m. that night.

After drawing attention as the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, Maxwell’s offseason has gotten off to a very turbulent start. Earlier this week, he told TMZ Sports that he and two friends were refused service at an Alabama restaurant because of a waiter’s disapproval with his decision to kneel. That drew a direct denial from restaurant employees, leaving it unclear whose version of the story is the truth.

But his weekend arrest is much more serious, and how the legal process unfolds obviously could impact not only his baseball future but his life in general. In Arizona, any assault with a deadly weapon charge is considered “aggravated” and listed a Class 3 felony, with Class 1 the most serious on a scale of 1-6.

Penalties for a Class 3 felony in the state can include anywhere from five to 15 years in prison plus a fine up to $150,000, though a number of factors are taken into consideration that could reduce sentencing, including whether the defendant has any prior criminal history. Right now, it’s not even clear if the charges will be carried forth against Maxwell toward a potential trial, and if so, whether he could plea bargain to lesser charges.

Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, declined any comment when contacted Sunday afternoon.

Aside from his legal issues, it stands to reason that Maxwell could face separate punishment from Major League Baseball over his arrest.

At the very least, this latest incident will reflect poorly on Maxwell’s reputation. That’s unfortunate for the 26-year-old catcher in that — regardless of where people stood on his polarizing decision to kneel during the anthem — he seemed to win respect from A’s teammates and many around baseball for his intelligent, genuine explanation for why he chose to kneel in the first place.

Maxwell joined A’s president Dave Kaval and manager Bob Melvin for a trip to Santa Rosa recently to bring gifts to a young boy who lost all of his baseball memorabilia in the North Bay wildfires. Afterward, Maxwell tweeted about how impactful it was for him personally to visit with fire victims.

After the regular season wrapped up, A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane praised Maxwell’s on-field performance in 2017 and said the rookie set up nicely as Oakland’s primary catcher looking ahead to 2018. But again, how things unfold from a legal standpoint likely will impact his status with the A’s.

“We were disappointed to learn of the allegations,” the A’s said in a press release Sunday. “We take this situation and ongoing investigation seriously. We are gathering information from the proper authorities and do not have further comment at this time.”

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

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AP

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”

Ouch.

Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

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USATSI

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.