Several of the prospects called up by the Royals this season are playing well, but Mike Moustakas isn’t one of them.
Moustakas has hit just .184 with one homer and a .473 OPS in 51 games since being called up in mid-June, but manager Ned Yost explained to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that the Royals are sticking with the 22-year-old third baseman:
He’s playing spectacular defense at third base. So, he’ll figure it out here. You go through these things. That’s why we brought him up now. So he could go through it now. It’s what we keep talking about. These kids all go through this. This is nothing new. He’s good enough that he’ll figure it out.
I think that’s absolutely the right approach for a rebuilding to team to take with a top prospect and former first-round pick, although it would have been nice if the Royals had shown similar patience with Alex Gordon in past seasons.
Moustakas will probably wind up pushing his overall OPS above .500 by season’s end, but if not he’ll become the first 22-year-old to play at least 50 games and post a sub-.500 OPS since Luis Ordaz for the Cardinals in 1998. Ordaz went on to play just 136 more games after 1998 and 126 of them were for the Royals.
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.