The Diamondbacks selected pitcher Barret Loux sixth overall in this year’s draft, but backed out of signing him after a physical revealed a labrum
tear and elbow issues. My thinking had been that, with no deal in place, Loux would go back to college or wherever and next year someone else would take a chance at him, but that’s not the case: Major League Baseball is granting him free agency on September 1. I’m assuming someone will take a chance on him, injuries or no.
I’ve seen various people on Twitter in the past few minutes refer to this situation as a “bad precedent” or a “can of worms,” but I’m having a hard time seeing how that’s the case. Are people suggesting that players will now have an incentive to be injured and thus become free agents? Because that makes no sense. For teams to get out of having to pay first round picks via the manufacturing of injuries? That makes even less sense (why pick a guy to begin with if you don’t want to sign him). What am I missing here?
This seems like a situation where there is a legitimate disagreement about a player’s medical status and a team rather freaked out about said status. The Diamondbacks are, admittedly, being relieved of some risk. Loux is, possibly, getting a windfall due to early free agency. There may have been no good solutions, but I’m not sure how this is a replicable situation that creates a dangerous precedent.
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.