Keith Law is dead-on with his take about what the Aroldis Chapman means for the allegedly necessary international draft:
Returning to Chapman, this deal puts yet another lie to the claim pushed by MLB, among
others, that making the draft a worldwide one is about
maintaining competitive balance. The Reds, playing in one of MLB’s
smallest metropolitan areas, signed the player. The A’s, playing in
perhaps the majors’ worst active stadium, finished second, according to
Buster Olney. Another big-ticket Cuban defector, Noel Arguelles, signed
last month with Kansas City. Max Kepler-Roczynski, the best amateur
player to come out of the emerging baseball markets of Europe, signed
with Minnesota this summer.
The idea that “small-market” teams can’t
afford top amateur talent is and has always been wrong, because the
dollar figures involved for these amateur players are low relative to
the size of even a low-revenue team’s annual baseball operations budget.
Teams like the Reds and A’s are just fine competing for young talent, thank you very much, and don’t need an international draft to help them out. The people who call for such a beast want it not to help the small revenue teams, but to do to the market for top international prospects what has been done for U.S., Canadian and Puerto Rican prospects: kill it.
Stephen Strasburg got $15.1 million and he’s way closer to winning Major League baseball games than Chapman. You think he wouldn’t have made more money without the draft?
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.
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.