The trade deadline illuminated a common issue for the struggling Mets, Angels, Reds, and Diamondbacks: lack of diversity on their rosters.
Since the August 1st deadline, each of these teams has experienced a series of setbacks, with all four having lost seven games.
However, what’s drawing attention beyond the scores is the limited representation of MLBbros, or Black players, on their active lineups. Notably, the Angels feature Jordyn Adams, the Reds showcase Will Benson, and the Diamondbacks have Alek Thomas and Tommy Pham.
The Mets don’t have a single MLBbro on their active roster.
This discrepancy is further pronounced due to the impact of injuries, particularly for the Angels and Reds. Jo Adell (left oblique strain), Hunter Greene (right hip pain), and Justin Dunn (right shoulder strain) are sidelined on the 60-day injured list, impacting the representation statistics for these teams.
The Mets traded away Pham, their lone MLBbro, during a dump of players after their major-league payroll record of nearly $430 million in salaries plus luxury tax penalties didn’t pay off this season.
Pham wound up joining Thomas in Arizona, while Kyle Lewis was recently sent down to the Triple-A Reno Aces, where he’s hitting .349 on the year and is 5-for-10 since his demotion on Aug. 3.
With the Mets seven and a half games back in the wild-card race, owner Steve Cohen is calling for another rebuild around Francisco Lindor.
This is due to Pete Alonso avoiding arbitration by agreeing in January to a contract that will pay him $14.5 million this season.
The salary is a record for a first baseman in his second season of arbitration eligibility.
But the Mets may allow the star first baseman to test free agency, since he was reportedly on the market during the trade deadline, but the asking price was too high for other teams.
“It turned out that it was a moment in time when other clubs are thinking very short-term, and I was thinking more intermediate-term, so I was able to take advantage,” Cohen said of the trade deadline.
The Mets, who pursued bolstering their farm system for the future, neglected to add more than one MLBbro to their prospects.
The Mets could make a move like the Braves in 2022, calling up MLBbro Michael Harris II from Double-A for a spark.
But the options are slim as their only MLBbro on the top-30 prospects according to MLB.com is Jeremiah Jackson, who the Mets acquired from the Angels at the trade deadline.
The 23-year-old shortstop is batting .240 with 16 homers, 62 RBI, and 22 stolen bases this season for the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
Jackson has 40 games of experience at third base, with 30 of those games coming in 2023 at Double-A. None of the Mets’ third basemen on their depth chart are currently hitting over .215.
Although the Angels claimed to have been making their first playoff push in part by acquiring five new players at the trade deadline, they are still struggling. But notably, the team that is now seven games back in the American League wild card is lacking bros.
Anaheim’s No. 21 prospect Adams made his debut on Aug. 2, and the Angels’ No. 3 prospect, according to MLB, is Werner Blakely, who’s currently with the High-A Tri-City Dust Devils, but those are their only MLBbros in the top-30 prospects.
The Reds and D’backs are in the hunt for the final National League wild-card spot with both teams less than two games back.
It’s ironic that both of these teams have at least one MLBbro in their top-30 prospect list; Arizona’s top prospect is Jordan Lawlar.
MLB Lacking Black Representation
Across the board, the absence of Black players in key roles reverberates throughout the league.
The impact of this representation gap extends beyond the game itself, affecting the visibility and aspirations of young Black athletes.
The emergence of role models is crucial for attracting diverse talent and cultivating a broader fan base.
Ultimately, the disparity in diversity among these teams underscores a pivotal aspect of baseball’s cultural and societal role.
The choices made by organizations in cities like Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Cincinnati hold the power to influence and inspire the next generation of players.
It helps that there are youth academies in Cincinnati and Compton for kids from those areas to get more exposure to the game, but a major city like New York has two MLBbros and neither play for the Mets.
By addressing the underrepresentation of Black athletes, these teams have the opportunity to make a profound impact on the game’s trajectory and its accessibility to all backgrounds, especially marginalized communities.