Gearing up for Thursday at the Winter Meetings

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Disco Hayes.jpgThere’s not much left on the official agenda here in Indianapolis, but none of the fun stuff happens on the official agenda anyway.  For what it’s worth:

The Rule 5 draft takes place at 9 A.M. this morning. Even the prospect junkies I’ve talked to here aren’t terribly excited about it. There’s no Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla or Joakim Soria in this crowd.  Last year 21 players were selected. Only six saw major league playing time. Only three stuck all season with the teams that chose them. The draft is not going to make a tremendous difference for any team this year.

Among the potential pickees this year:  Marlins outfielder John Raynor is mildly interesting. Marlins pitcher Arquimedes Caminero is too. D-backs pitcher Hector Ambriz is someone else who has been mentioned.  You may have heard of Royals submarine pitcher Chris “Disco” Hayes, but really, his nickname is his biggest claim to fame. While submariners are evidence of all that is right and good in the universe, he’s basically a one-pitch pitcher.

Officially, that’s it.  Unofficially, teams and agents will continue to talk about the Roy Halladays and Jason Bays of the world.  But maybe not too intensely.  Many of the movers and shakers have early flights today (assuming the high winds and frigid temperatures here in Indy don’t cancel them all). As a result, the biggest deals are likely to wait for a later day.

But CTB is still on the job.  I’ll be blogging from the Marriott until they kick me out.  Aaron and Matthew will be monitoring the interwebs as well.  If it happens, we’ll tell you about it. If we miss it, we’ll make it up.  If it’s wrong, we’ll blame Jon Heyman.

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.