He’s more expendable than ever in Toronto following Brett Lawrie’s arrival, but Edwin Encarnacion, who has been tearing it up for the Jays for more than two months, could be a nice piece for a contender this month.
Encarnacion was the Toronto offense last night, going 2-for-2 with a homer and two walks in a 4-1 loss to the A’s. He’s hitting .435 in August and .336 since the beginning of July. In fact, he’s been pretty hot for about 10 weeks now, with a .310 average, nine homers and a 30/20 K/BB ratio in 181 at-bats since June 1. He’s slugging .541 over that timeframe.
With Jose Bautista back in the outfield, the Jays can have Travis Snider and Eric Thames split time between left field and DH in Encarnacion’s place. Snider was sent back to the minors last week to make room for Lawrie on the roster.
Encarnacion probably wouldn’t clear waivers because of the streak he’s on, but he could be traded to the first team that claims him. That might be Cleveland, who would have room for him as a part-time first baseman and DH. The Angels and Yankees are others that could use his right-handed bat.
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.