Not only are the Mets losing their best player, but it looks like they’re losing him to the one team they beat in the NL East standings last season.
Jose Reyes appears to be leaving for Florida without the Mets having even made an official offer. Reports indicated that they might be willing to spend about $80 million for five years, but that was never going to get it done, not for the No. 3 free agent on the market. Reyes may struggle to stay healthy, but he’s an above average defender at a premium position and he just won the NL batting crown.
Without Reyes, the Mets are looking at Ruben Tejada at shortstop. He’s a nice fallback after posting a .360 OBP at the tender age of 21 in 328 at-bats for the Mets last season. Still, he’s never going to be a Reyes. Superstars in their prime are so tough to come by, and the Mets are letting one go without a fight. They may have another in David Wright, but Wright has hardly played like one these last two years.
Absent Reyes, the Mets lineup currently looks something like this:
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Ike Davis
LF Jason Bay
RF Lucas Duda
CF Angel Pagan
C Josh Thole
And that’s if they don’t non-tender Pagan to save an extra $5 million.
The rotation may be more of a strength if Johan Santana can string together 190 innings. R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey would make for a solid two, three and four. The bullpen, on the other hand, is in serious need of a couple of power arms, and the budget might not have room for more than the likes of Matt Capps.
It all points to the Mets falling into last place next year. The minor league system is in better shape than it’s been in years, but the turnaround isn’t likely to come quick.
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.