Albert Pujols

UPDATE: The Marlins have improved upon their initial offer to Albert Pujols

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UPDATE II: It’s fair to say that Pujols’ agent walked away from tonight’s meeting happy. Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reports that the Marlins have “boosted” their nine-year offer to the free agent first baseman.

No word on the specific terms, but “one person with knowledge of the talks” said negotiations will likely play out more before a decision is reached. The Marlins’ initial reported offer was said to be for significantly less than the nine-year, $198-210 million deal offered by the Cardinals earlier this year, so this may not mean a lot yet.

UPDATE: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com confirms that the Marlins and Pujols’ agent will indeed meet again tonight.

8:03 PM: It appears that the Marlins and Dan Lozano, the agent for Albert Pujols, are already setting up another meeting, having met already once this afternoon.

The Cardinals, too, are due to meet again with Lozano. According to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, they view the Marlins as a real threat to land the three-time MVP.

St. Louis isn’t known to have made a new offer to Pujols since he turned down a nine-year, $198 million extension in January, and reports indicate that they’re not willing to go much higher now. While $200 million sounds nice, the $22 million per year would put Pujols behind Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Joe Mauer, Johan Santana and Mark Teixeira in terms of annual salary.

Despite having already spent $106 million on Jose Reyes and $27 million on Heath Bell, the Marlins look like legitimate suitors for Pujols. They’d certainly have to eclipse the Cardinals’ offer to have a shot, but as much as Pujols is believed to enjoy playing in St. Louis, he may not take kindly to the perceived lack of respect being displayed in contract negotations. Pujols has never come close to earning what he’s worth, and while it’s true that the Cardinals don’t rake in dollars like the Yankees and Red Sox, they did outbid everyone for a premier talent in Matt Holliday two years ago.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.