After signing a minor league contract with the Nationals over the winter, Mike Cameron announced in February that he planned to retire. However, he is going out as a Mariner.
Cameron, who spent four seasons with the club, signed a one-day employment contract to officially retire with the Mariners. The announcement was made before he threw out of the ceremonial first pitch to former teammate Ichiro Suzuki in last night’s home opener against the Athletics.
Cameron was acquired by the Mariners in February of 2000 in the trade that sent Ken Griffey, Jr. to the Reds. Despite the immense pressure of replacing a franchise icon in center field, he told Josh Liebeskind of MLB.com that he always felt comfortable in Seattle.
“The days that I played here and the opportunity that I got to replace a legend, and the fact that the people kind of took hold and took shape of me and kind of walked me through everything and gave me the opportunity to really start my career off right, this is basically where I want to finish,” Cameron said.
Wildly underappreciated because of his low batting averages and high strikeout totals, Cameron was a three-time Gold Glove award winner and one-time All-Star. He is one of only 21 players who accumulated at least 250 home runs and 250 stolen bases in their career.
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.