Big Unit doesn't think he'll be the last to 300

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Despite some pretty spiffy arguments to the contrary,
so many writers seem to want to say that Randy Johnson will be the last
pitcher to win 300 that a certain conventional wisdom to that effect
has come into being. That’s fine, but even the guy whose legacy might
benefit the most from the end of the attainability of that milestone isn’t having any of it:

With his next win, he’ll be the 24th pitcher in major league history
to join the 300-victory club. And it’s fashionable to suggest he’ll be
the last of his kind. But if you make that suggestion to Johnson, don’t
expect a polite nod. Johnson’s own fossil record suggests that the next
300-game winner could be among us right now, not necessarily ticketed
for greatness but toiling to throw strikes.

“I’m not going to say I’ll be the last because everyone overlooked
me . . . That was the talk when (Tom) Glavine got there (in 2007). I
wasn’t given a chance because of my back surgeries. So I’m not one to
say who could or couldn’t. Anything’s possible. Look at me.”

Given the rarity of guys who stink until they’re 26 and then turn into perennial Cy Young candidates, we certainly shouldn’t expect
another pitcher with Randy Johnson’s career arc any time soon, but he’s
right: if one guy can start late, pitch his entire career in the
five-man rotation era and still make it to 300, another one can too.

The rest of the article attempts to profile the next 300 winner.
I’ve talked about durability and playing for a good team as being the
primary attributes, but I hadn’t considered this one:

He’ll probably spend significant time in the American League. Like
most pitchers switching to the National League, Barry Zito was happy to
leave the designated hitter behind and face lineups that had fewer
power hitters. But Zito soon discovered one of the N.L.’s pitfalls: If
you’re trailing 2-1 and you’re due to hit in the sixth inning, you’re
probably not going near the bat rack.

In the A.L., an effective starting pitcher can stick around longer
and perhaps benefit from a late rally. That might lead to a few extra
victories each season.

The A.L. can wear a guy out, but wins are every bit a function of
opportunity as they are excellence, and the D.H. league simply gives a
guy more opportunities.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.