Neal Huntington: jerkin' his players around

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Twice last week Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington said that he would tender closer Matt Capps, and all other arb-eligible players a contract: “At this point, our plan is to tender all eligible players,” he said on Monday. He repeated the phrase almost verbatim on Wednesday.  

Last night: no contract tendered to Matt Capps.

As Aaron mentioned last night, this is a pretty cheap move by the Pirates. Capps took a step back last year, but he’s a solid pitcher who could easily rebound, and his arbitration number would not have been bank-breaking. He’s going to make someone’s bullpen better next season, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t have been Pittsburgh’s.

But more than cheap, this is just petty. It’s easy for us to think of players as mere names on a spreadsheet, but you can bet that Matt Capps was wondering about his future these past few weeks and took some comfort in hearing his boss say that he was going to be offered a contract. If Huntington wasn’t planning to offer him one, he shouldn’t have jerked him around by saying he would — twice — last week.

This is the sort of thing the players notice. At the very least you can bet Capps’ suddenly former teammates noticed, and will be increasingly loathe to trust Pirates’ management going forward.

Report: Braves sign Kurt Suzuki

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 20: Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Minnesota Twins hits against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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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.

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.