Winter meetings extras: Soriano, Rule 5 draft, Patterson

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*The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Dave O’Brien believes the Braves and Rays could finalize a Rafael Soriano deal on Thursday.
The Braves figure to get a decent prospect here, but the quality will depend on whether they’re willing to throw in a couple of million to help out with Soriano’s still undetermined salary, which presumably will be around $8 million. Soriano should move right into the closer’s role for Tampa Bay, allowing J.P. Howell to return to setup duties.
*The Washington Times reports that the Nationals will take Zach Kroenke from the Yankees with the first pick in the Rule 5 draft and then send him back to the Bombers to complete the Brian Bruney trade.
The Yankees must think they completely blew it when they left Kroenke available for the draft. The 25-year-old southpaw had a 1.99 ERA in 72 1/3 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, though that came with a modest 55/30 K/BB ratio. The odd thing about this is that Kroenke will still have to pass through waivers if he fails to make the Yankees out of spring training. However, with Phil Coke gone, he may have a real chance of winning a bullpen spot.
*The Mariners agreed to terms with Corey Patterson on a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Patterson may or may not fit the defense-first mentality of the new Mariners regime, depending on what you want to believe. That he was once an elite defensive center fielder is undeniable, but the numbers rated him merely average in 2007 and ’08. Of course, he spent almost all of last season in Triple-A, hitting .292/.333/.478 in 387 at-bats. He went 3-for-29 with 13 strikeouts in limited action for the Brewers. It’s doubtful he’ll make the Mariners out of spring training.

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.