The Braves’ vaunted rotation depth will be tested in April, as Tim Hudson expects to miss at least the first month of the season following back surgery on Nov. 28.
Hudson hoped to avoid the surgery and thus didn’t have it until two months after the Braves wrapped their 2011 season. That delay will cost the team in 2012.
“Me getting back for the start of the season was never really a possibility, just from a timeline standpoint,” Hudson said. “The kind of surgery I had is a three-to-sixth-month deal. Five months puts me at May 1.”
Hudson likely would have replaced Derek Lowe as the Braves’ Opening Day starter if healthy. Now that nod could go to Jair Jurrjens, though Jurrjens too is coming off an injury. If things go as hoped, Atlanta will have a rotation of Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and either Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran initially. Kris Medlen is another candidate to step in, but the Braves would prefer to leave him in the bullpen.
Hudson went 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA in 215 innings for the Braves last season. He’s owed $9 million this year in the final guaranteed season of his contract, but barring a meltdown, his $9 million option for 2013 will surely be exercised.
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.