With Jim Thome joining the club, the Indians have shaken up their roster some in advance of Friday’s game against the Royals. Left fielder Michael Brantley (wrist) and starting pitcher Josh Tomlin (elbow) have both gone on the DL, and left-handed reliever Nick Hagadone has been called up to make his major league debut.
Hagadone, a 2006 supplemental first-round pick of the Red Sox, was seen by many as just as important of a piece as Justin Masterson in the July 31, 2009 deal that sent Victor Martinez from Cleveland to Boston. However, his command deserted him in 2010, and the Indians opted to shift him to the pen at the end of the year. He’s been a fine reliever this season, amassing a 2.65 ERA and a 74/21 K/BB ratio in 68 innings between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
Still, Hagadone’s stay could be a short one, as the Indians will need to replace Tomlin in the rotation next week. Jeanmar Gomez and Mitch Talbot will be candidates to claim the spot. Talbot, who cleared waivers and was outright to Triple-A earlier this month, pitched seven scoreless innings in his last start for Columbus.
Brantley’s absence leaves the Indians with just 3 1/2 outfielders in Shin-Soo Choo, Kosuke Fukudome, Ezequiel Carrera and Shelley Duncan. One wonders if they’ll consider giving Matt LaPorta the occasional start in left against a lefty. In Fukudome, Carrera and Jim Thome, they have three players who don’t typically face many southpaws.
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.