Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he feared the worst when news of Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury surfaced yesterday and unfortunately it’s now official, as the team announced today that Wainwright will undergo Tommy John surgery.
He’ll return in 12-18 months with a big scar and a rebuilt elbow, but whether Wainwright will still be with the Cardinals remains to be seen. St. Louis can void their $9 million option for 2012 and $12 million for 2013 if he ends this season on the disabled list, which is now a given.
I wrote this morning about the various ways the Cardinals can approach the contract situation, but the short version is that they can void the deal and make Wainwright a free agent after this season, try to work out a new multi-year deal that includes less upfront money, or simply commit to paying him $21 million in the hopes he comes back healthy in early or mid-2012.
In the meantime the Cardinals have said repeatedly that they plan to replace Wainwright with an in-house candidate rather than pursue a veteran replacement such as free agent Kevin Millwood. That could change after they get a longer look at the various rotation possibilities in camp, but for now the injury creates big opportunities for guys like Kyle McClellan, Brian Tallet, Ian Snell, and Lance Lynn.
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.