The Red Sox backed out of a trade for Rich Harden before the non-waiver trade deadline due to concerns about his medical records, but there’s still a chance he’ll be dealt this month.
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Yankees have had scouts present at each of Harden’s last two starts while scouts from other potential playoff teams have been watching him for even longer.
Harden tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts over seven shutout innings in last night’s win over the Blue Jays. After missing the first three months of the season with a strained lat muscle, the 29-year-old right-hander has a 3.91 ERA and 60/24 K/BB ratio over 53 innings. He is averaging 91.6 mph on his fastball this season, which is up a tick from where he was last season (90.5) with the Rangers.
The Yankees have six starters for five spots right now, but CC Sabathia is the only given for a short-series during the postseason. While Harden would represent an interesting alternative for the Bombers, there’s no guarantee he’ll actually make it to them. Harden was placed on waivers earlier this week, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, so a pitching-hungry team like the Angels could potentially put in a claim first.
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.