Many assume that if the White Sox indeed pull their offer to Johnny Damon it pretty much means the “Tigers or bust,” but don’t forget that the Braves have already offered Damon a one-year contract with some deferred money — somewhere around $4 million or less.
After Friday’s developments, Braves general manager Frank Wren told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that “Nothing has changed on our end.” This doesn’t really mean anything to me, other than saying “our original offer still stands.”
Even though the Tigers are known to have offered at least a one-year, $7 million contract, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution still thinks there’s a “reasonable chance” Damon winds up with the Braves:
It’s seemed odd to me that the Braves’ interest in Damon was
practically dismissed by a couple of other media outlets in the last
week, Atlanta described as having only lackluster interest and not
making a serious push for him.
The team that made him an offer nearly two weeks ago, before Detroit or the Chicago White Sox made offers. The team that had Chipper Jones call
Damon the same day it made its offer, to emphasize to him how much the
Braves wanted him and how well he’d fit in their lineup and on their
I think it’s pretty simple. Scott Boras wanted to dangle Damon in the AL Central for a while to see if he could create some sort of mini bidding war. It doesn’t seem to be working. This posturing has been fun and all (not really), but it’s high-time for Damon to step up and make his preference known, no matter the salary.
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.