Nats catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in Venezuela over 24 hours ago. His captors have yet to contact the Ramos family seeking a ransom and authorities are short on promising leads.
But El Universal, a Venezuelan newspaper based in Caracas, has uncovered a few more details about what exactly took place on Wednesday evening in the town of Valencia:
- Ramos signed an autograph for a young fan who had been playing stickball just before the kidnappers pulled up.
- An orange 2007 Chevrolet Captiva was the primary vehicle used in the kidnapping, but another truck was also involved. The Chevy had no plates and the windows were heavily tinted.
- Two men, with their faces uncovered, got out of the Chevy and approached Ramos. One wrapped his arm around the 24-year-old’s neck and pressed a 9mm pistol against his head.
- Ramos was with his father Abraham, his brother David, and a cousin. He was the only one taken.
As Craig noted earlier
, the odds of Ramos being released unharmed are high, especially once a ransom request is made. But a full day has passed with no signs of progress. And that’s pretty damn frightening.
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.