In a sign that Miami’s pursuit of Albert Pujols is likely over, the Marlins shifted their attention to the rotation and signed veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million contract.
Buehrle drew interest from nearly half the teams in baseball, but recently narrowed his choices down to the Marlins, Nationals, and one other unnamed team, ultimately choosing to be reunited with Ozzie Guillen after the two spent the past eight seasons together with the White Sox.
Buehrle has never blown anyone away with his raw stuff, but he has a 3.83 career ERA and has topped 200 innings in each of his 11 full seasons. During that same period Marlins pitchers have topped 200 innings a combined total of 13 times. Over the past four years Buehrle ranks 10th among all pitchers in innings and 28th in adjusted ERA+, which factors in ballpark and league.
At age 33 a four-year commitment is risky, but Buehrle is coming off one of his best seasons with a 3.59 ERA in 205 innings and while certainly not as exciting as signing Pujols the Marlins can definitely use the rotation help. Josh Johnson’s health is a huge factor for the Marlins’ pitching staff, but a potential front four of Johnson, Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez, and Ricky Nolasco could be among the league’s best.
And now we’ll find out if Miami still has enough money left to pursue a fourth big-name free agent like Prince Fielder. So far they’ve handed out $191 million to Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Buehrle.
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.