We’ve heard Matt Kemp bandied about in some trade talk, mostly of the silly Hot Stove variety, but major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that James Loney is the position player the Dodgers are “most willing” to trade.
Loney batted just .267/.329/.395 with 10 homers, 88 RBI and a 723 OPS this past season, poor production from a first baseman. The 26-year-old has topped 88 RBI in three consecutive seasons, but hasn’t had more than 13 homers or a 772 OPS since 2007. The 26-year-old agreed to a one-year, $3.1 million contract in his first go-around in arbitration this past January, so he’s in line to make even more this winter.
The free agent market is fairly deep as far as power hitting first basemen are concerned, so the Dodgers could make a trade to attempt to upgrade either at third base or in left field. One scenario Rosenthal paints is that the Dodgers could turn to a left field platoon featuring Jay Gibbons and Casey Blake. 37-year-old Blake in left field? Ouch. No thank you.
I suppose you could throw Loney in there as a non-tender candidate, but I believe he will be offered a contract, even if the Dodgers are unable to find a trade partner. It’s interesting that Rosenthal hears that Loney is the position player the Dodgers are “most willing” to trade when they also have Russell Martin under team control. Martin, who underwent hip surgery in August and has underperformed in each of the past two seasons, could make around $6 million in arbitration this winter.
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.