The Phillies just made it official, sending outfielder Domonic Brown and right-hander Andrew Carpenter to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. These moves cleared the way for the newly-acquired Hunter Pence to be added to the active roster and for third baseman Placido Polanco to return from the disabled list.
We already talked about the Brown demotion this morning, but the plan is for him to play everyday in the minor leagues, presumably until rosters expand in September. The 23-year-old has looked a little shaky defensively, but has held his own offensively with a .728 OPS and 34/25 K/BB ratio over 209 plate appearances this season.
Polanco hasn’t played since July 4 due to lower back inflammation. The 35-year-old was hitless over six at-bats in two rehab games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but the Phillies were obviously more focused on the condition of his back than the results. They’re hopeful some rest and a recent epidural injection will make a difference, as he is batting just .216/.276/.261 with two homers and a .537 OPS since the start of May.
UPDATE: Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that the plan is for Brown to play left field for the foreseeable future, as there will be an opening there when Raul Ibanez becomes a free agent following the season. He is starting in left field (hat-tip to the comments section) for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this evening.
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.