Whew! Just woke up. So sad about it too because I was having a great dream. Dayton Moore signed — get this — Melky Cabrera. I know. Crazy! Almost as crazy as someone actually reporting on someone’s death before knowing for sure that the person is dead. And that would never happen!
Oh well, back to the rational, sensible non-crazy world for me!
But before that, let’s talk about uber-eventful last night. Carl Crawford and Boston. The news shot through the Winter Meetings like a bullet. When word hit the lobby of the Dolphin Resort, the scene was like the reporters running to the phone booths in “Airplane!” A bunch of people flooded into the media room, which you may be surprised to know isn’t normally packed with people at midnight on the last night of the Winter Meetings. But it’s not like everyone went in there. Some people quite obviously stayed in the lobby and filed their story from their Blackberry.
As for the Crawford signing, Drew and Matthew killed it last night with an initial report of the deal, the dominoes that will now fall as a result of it, the effect it will have on the Red Sox’ lineup, and a possible explanation of why the Angels lost out on Crawford when everyone thought he was theirs. All I’ll add is this: the Winter Meetings have made one thing perfectly clear: until there’s a salary cap, teams like the Yankees just are not going to be able to compete.
Today is the last day of the Winter Meetings. The only official thing of any note is the Rule 5 draft, which goes down at 9AM. After that most of the team officials, agents and assembled media make a mad dash for the airport. I’ll be loitering around later than that, but my day at the Winter Meetings will end a little after noon, I figure. But don’t go anywhere, because HBT will continue to post frantically on everything going down here, there and everywhere.
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.