Asdrubal Cabrera and the Indians have agreed to a two-year, $16.5 million contract extension, with an official announcement today that he’ll make $6.5 million in 2013 and $10 million in 2014.
Cabrera was already under contract for $4.55 million this season after avoiding arbitration with a one-year deal and would have been arbitration eligible for the final time in 2013, so a two-year contract pre-pays for that and also buys out his first year of free agency in 2014.
Cabrera hit .273 with 25 homers in 151 games last season after hitting .284 with a grand total of just 18 homers in his first 387 games. However, his .794 OPS last year wasn’t that far out of line from his previous .741 career mark and at age 26 he’s right in the middle of his prime.
Obviously the Indians are betting that Cabrera’s out of nowhere power breakout last season was legitimate, or at least suggests he’ll maintain more power than he showed prior to 2011, but even if that proves to be a one-year fluke his defense and on-base skills are plenty valuable too.
Cabrera gets a big chunk of guaranteed money, the Indians delay his free agency for another year, and he can still hit the open market as a 29-year-old.
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.