Link-O-Rama: Taveras on the verge of history

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* Not only is Willy Taveras hitless in his last 32 at-bats
while misguidedly playing through a hamstring injury, he’s failed to
reach base at all in eight straight games in which he’s had at least
two plate appearances.

Steve Balboni, Dan Meyer, and Rob Picciolo are tied for the most
since 1954 with nine such games in a row, so after getting yesterday
off Taveras is one more bad game away from joining their exclusive
club. Good luck, Willy!

* Randy Johnson picked up career win No. 301
over the weekend and is now five victories from passing Tom Glavine for
21st place on the all-time list. Since back-to-back rough outings to
begin the season Johnson is 6-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 starts, which
gives him a chance to pass Glavine (305), Mickey Welch (307), Charley
Radbourn (309), and perhaps even Tom Seaver (311) with a strong second
half.

* According to the Miami Herald,
last month “the Marlins rejected Atlanta’s offer of outfielder Jeff
Francoeur for Cody Ross.” Ross is nothing special as a player, but his
.263/.317/.486 line since the beginning of last season makes him about
20 percent more productive than Francoeuer (.242/.291/.355) during that
same span and he’s making $1 million less.

* Since coming off the disabled list last month with a new pair of shades, Brian McCann has hit .377 with a 13/15 K/BB ratio in 32 games.

* Gaby Sanchez has started to play third base again at Triple-A just in case the Marlins finally decide to bench Emilio Bonifacio.

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.