Jake Westbrook told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he’d “definitely” be interested in re-signing with the Cardinals and general manager John Mozeliak said the team “obviously has interest” in retaining the impending free agent.
Sounds like a perfect match, right? Well …
Goold also reports that “the Cardinals reached out recently to Westbrook’s agents, though nothing substantive about re-signing Westbrook has been discussed.” Westbrook is in the final season of a three-year, $33 million deal signed with the Indians in 2007 and certainly sounds like someone planning to test the open market regardless of how much he enjoys St. Louis:
I’m definitely going to be open-minded about pretty much everything. If they had interest, I’ve definitely enjoyed my time here. I’ve gotten to know the guys well. The organization is definitely one that everybody knows about, that I’ve certainly heard a lot about, and now, firsthand, I’ve gotten to see that everybody was right.
I wanted to make every start and try to accumulate all of the innings I could, to try to get over that 200-inning threshold. I’m close. That was my goal. If you can make every start and get to that 200 innings or around it, that means you’re in a lot of ballgames, you’re giving your team a chance to win. I’ve been able to do that this year, and my arm feels great.
Eating innings and giving your team a chance to win is great, but when you’re a 33-year-old impending free agent who missed all of last season following Tommy John elbow surgery showing that you’re healthy again is also pretty important. Westbrook and the Cardinals seem like a pretty good fit, but from his point of view there’s really no downside to seeing what free agency has to offer.
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.