UPDATE: Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com was told by multiple Mets’ sources that a deal with Rodriguez is unlikely. In fact, one source told him: “We are not bringing Ivan here.” The club appears content to go with Mike Nickeas or Rob Johnson as Josh Thole‘s backup.
6:48 PM: 40-year-old Ivan Rodriguez is still out there looking for work and though a signing doesn’t sound imminent, he does have one potential lead.
According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, a Mets official spoke with Ivan Rodriguez as recently as 10 days ago and the club “hasn’t ruled out the possibility” of signing him a backup to Josh Thole. As of now, Mike Nickeas is the favorite for the spot.
The Mets have roughly $2 million left in their budget, according to Puma, but they want to make sure that Johan Santana is healthy before making any more moves. If Santana has any setbacks with his surgically-repaired shoulder this spring, they will likely try to add a starting pitcher. In the meantime, the Mets have told Rodriguez to “stay in shape.”
Rodriguez batted .218/.281/.323 with two home runs, 19 RBI and a .604 OPS over 137 plate appearances last season with the Nationals while throwing out 52 percent (13-for-25) of attempted basestealers. He is 166 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.