Dustin McGowan is still trying to come back from a series of arm injuries to reestablish himself as a viable big-league pitcher and has thrown just 21 innings with a 6.43 ERA since 2009, yet today the Blue Jays signed the 30-year-old right-hander to a two-year contract extension worth at least $3 million.
John Lott of the National Post reports that McGowan will get $1.5 million in both 2013 and 2014, plus a $4 million option for 2015.
Obviously the Blue Jays are feeling confident about how McGowan’s shoulder has responded this spring and worried about losing him for nothing as a free agent after the season, wiping away years of sticking with him through all the injuries, but guaranteeing him millions at this point is definitely odd.
Before the arm problems derailed his career McGowan was a hard-throwing mid-rotation starter with No. 2 starter upside, but he didn’t pitch in the majors at all in 2009 or 2010 and appeared in just five games last season. The odds were seemingly against McGowan making an impact this season, let alone in 2013 and 2014, so this is definitely the Blue Jays going out on a relatively expensive and confusing limb.
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.