Once the Padres traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox with one season remaining on his contract the assumption has been that fellow impending free agent Heath Bell isn’t long for San Diego either, but yesterday the closer told Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune that signing a long-term extension “would be my dream.”
Whether or not the Padres have room in their budget for a $10 million-per-season closer or are even interested in making a multi-year commitment to a 33-year-old reliever is unclear, but Bell left no doubt that he wants to remain in San Diego:
This next contract is going to be very important to my family. I’m not 27 or 28 when I become eligible for free agency like Adrian. I have to think about this contract. But I also want to stay in San Diego. My family loves it here. I love it here. I’d love to get something done with the Padres that benefits everyone. Right now, I honestly don’t know what I am asking or what the Padres are offering. I don’t know the numbers, but I know I want to stay with the Padres.
Bell is set to make around $7 million this season via the arbitration process, and Center speculates that an extension “would easily top $20 million” for three years. General manager Jed Hoyer indicated that he’s had some discussions with Bell’s agent, but the talks don’t sound very far along.
Since joining the Padres in 2007 Bell has a 2.54 ERA and 338 strikeouts in 311 innings, including 89 saves in two seasons since replacing Trevor Hoffman as closer. If the Padres fall out of contention, expect Bell to be among the most sought after players at the trading deadline.
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.