Dustin Ackley, the No. 2 pick in last year’s First-Year Player Draft, was among six roster cuts the Mariners made on Tuesday morning. And according to what general manager Jack Zduriencik told Jim Street of MLB.com, Ackley, who was drafted as an outfielder, will continue his transition to second base with Double-A West Tennessee.
“He is going to go out and play in games, and that’s the most
important thing,” Zduriencik said. “You have to realize that every
single time something happened to him in the field, it was the first
time it happened at that position.
“It was the first time for a rundown, first time turning a double play,
first time going after a popup in the outfield. That being said, he
impressed with his athletic ability and day-to-day improvement.”
The Mariners are currently tossing around the idea of using Chone Figgins at second base and Jose Lopez at third base this season, though there’s no confirmation that it will actually happen once the games count in the standings. Personally, I feel they may be trying to show Lopez’s versatility in order to make him more valuable in a potential trade. Either way, it appears that the 22-year-old Ackley won’t be long for the minors.
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.