Brett Lawrie spring training

Top prospect Brett Lawrie begins his rehab assignment

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Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie, who was on the verge of taking over as Toronto’s third baseman before suffering a fractured hand May 31, will begin a rehab assignment at Single-A Dunedin tonight.

Lawrie hit .354/.415/.677 with 15 homers and 49 RBI in 52 games for Triple-A Las Vegas before going down, and the common belief was that he was only a couple of days away from getting promoted to the majors.

Unfortunately, Lawrie’s six-week absence has seen circumstances change in a big way.  The Jays were trying to get by with Jayson Nix, Edwin Encarnacion and John McDonald at third base before Lawrie got hurt.  Now they’ve reinstalled Jose Bautista at his old position, and they have youngsters Travis Snider and Eric Thames playing well in the outfield corners at the moment.

Depending on how he comes back, Lawrie may have to wait until September for his promotion now.  He could force his way onto the major league roster if he immeditely resumes hitting like he did during the first two months, but the Blue Jays are content with their corner situation as is.  They might even decided to stick Lawrie in an outfield corner, given that he’s struggled so far with the adjustment to third base.  Bautista, though he prefers to play the outfield, is the better defender of the two.

Report: Braves sign Kurt Suzuki

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 20: Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Minnesota Twins hits against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.

Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.

The team has yet to confirm the deal.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.