Philadelphia has already exercised next season’s $8.5 million option on Jimmy Rollins, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday that the Phillies have no plans to negotiate a long-term extension right now:
I think we’ll probably let things, at this time, play out. There’s some concern about his production the last couple of years. He’s a much better player than he’s played. We just have to make sure he’s healthy.
Rollins turns 32 years old next month, missed half of this season with injuries, and has hit just .248 with a .304 on-base percentage and .406 slugging percentage during the past two years. His situation is somewhat similar to Derek Jeter’s in New York, albeit on a much lesser scale. Rollins has played his entire 11-year career in Philadelphia, winning the MVP in 2007 and ranking as one of the best players in team history, but he’s also getting old for a shortstop and hasn’t been productive offensively since 2008.
I’m sure Amaro and the Phillies would love to keep him in Philadelphia beyond 2011, but committing to Rollins into his mid-30s just doesn’t make much sense at this point unless he’s willing to take a significant pay cut to make it happen. It could mean losing him next offseason, but the Phillies are right to make Rollins play for his next contract.
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.