The Padres acquired Yonder Alonso from the Reds today as part of their massive haul for Mat Latos, which has led many to wonder whether prospect first baseman Anthony Rizzo will become a trade chip.
With that in mind, Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio this afternoon that the plan right now is for Alonso to play first base at the major league level and Rizzo to continue his development in the minors.
Rizzo, who was acquired from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez trade last December, made his major league debut this past season and batted just .141 with one home run and 46 strikeouts in 128 at-bats. However, it’s way too soon to call the 22-year-old a bust, as many still like him for his patience and power potential. In fact, Baseball America ranked him as the organization’s top prospect earlier this week. Of course, it’s possible new GM Josh Byrnes views him differently than Jed Hoyer did.
The Padres have no sense of urgency to deal Rizzo right away, but most seem to think a trade is inevitable. This is just speculation for now, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com wrote this afternoon that some wonder whether Rizzo would make sense in a package for Rays’ right-hander Wade Davis. The 26-year-old right-hander signed a four-year, $12.6 million extension earlier this year which includes a series of affordable club options from 2015-2017.
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.