6:25 p.m. EST update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says the deal is done. Hairston will receive $6 million over two years, plus incentives, from the Dodgers. He’ll serve as a backup in both the infield and outfield, and he could push Juan Uribe for playing time at third base if Uribe struggles to bounce back from an awful 2011 season.
Ned Colletti: “Hey, Jerry. I think you’re great. I know there are a lot of teams out there who would love to have you around next season. I tell ya what I’m going to do. I’m going to offer you a two-year deal.”
Jerry Hairston Jr.: “Two years, Ned? I’m 35 years old, I’ve been in the big leagues 14 seasons and I’ve never had a multiyear deal. What’s the catch?”
Ned: “Catch? No catch. Well, I mean, you’ll have to settle for $1 million next year. But I can promise you a cool $5 million in 2012.”
Jerry: “OK, sure, why the heck not?”
Hairston is coming off one of his better years, having hit .270/.344/.383 in 337 at-bats for the Nationals and Brewers, and while he’s not much of a shortstop, his versatility does make him pretty valuable, even if it’s more the kind of value that leads teams to offer him one-year, $2 million contracts. If this gets done, it could potentially be the first time he’s spent two full years with the same team since his tenure with the Orioles ended after the 2004 season.
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.