As further evidence that the Phillies have reached “Yankees of the National League” status and will now be linked to every big-name player being shopped, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that “they have been considered frontrunner to land a San Diego reliever.”
Heath Bell is the Padres’ closer and biggest name in the bullpen, but setup man Mike Adams might actually be San Diego’s best reliever. And while Bell is an impending free agent making a bunch of money Adams is relatively cheap and under team control for 2012. In other words, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would be smart to make a play for Adams before he pays a premium for Bell.
Olney notes that Chad Qualls is another Padres reliever who could be on the Phillies’ radar, although he’s more of a solid middle man than late-inning weapon like Adams or Bell. Ryan Madson returned from the disabled list today, allowing the Phillies to push fill-in closer Antonio Bastardo back into a setup role, but apparently with Brad Lidge still on the DL and Jose Contreras’ status uncertain Amaro is pushing for more bullpen help.
Earlier this week Padres GM Jed Hoyer replied “at this point right now I’m not certain” when asked whether Bell will be traded, but the All-Star closer still being in San Diego after July 31 is looking more and more unlikely.
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.