John Smoltz is set to clear waivers today at noon. When he does, the Cardinals are going to sign him. They’re going to use him as a fifth starter initially, with thoughts of moving him to the bullpen late in the year or for the playoffs.
The Cardinals are one of the few contenders who really have nothing to lose by giving Smoltz a shot in the rotation. Between Todd Wellemeyer, Mitchell Boggs, Brad Thompson, and P.J. Walters, their fifth starters have been utter abominations. Those guys are a combined 10-15 with a 5.45 ERA, and given that they’ve allowed 320 baserunners in 188 1/3 innings, that ERA probably represents good luck.
Only downside: NL guys like me will bang our heads against a wall if Smoltz waltzes in to St. Louis and starts to pitch effectively, because it will just be the latest painful data point reminding us of the disparity between the leagues.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
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.