Apparently satisfied with the state of their outfield following the recent acquisition of Melky Cabrera, Jon Heyman of SI.com reported last week that the Giants were no longer expected to attempt to bring back Carlos Beltran. It sounded pretty ridiculous at the time and fortunately for Giants fans, that’s not necessarily the case.
According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Giants are still in the market for an outfielder and Beltran is at the top of their list.
The market for Beltran has been strangely quiet in the first couple of weeks of the Hot Stove season. The Red Sox are expected to pursue him, but they are busy attempting to re-sign David Ortiz right now. And we heard something about the Marlins the other day, but let’s be honest, they are in on pretty much everybody and it’s pretty difficult to say whether they are actually serious about any of them. Beltran is one of the top free agents out there, so business should pick up as we get closer to the Winter Meetings next month.
Beltran, who turns 35 in April, batted .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers, 84 RBI and a .910 OPS over 598 plate appearances this season, including a .323/.369/.551 batting line over 44 games with San Francisco.
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.