Joe Torre has served as MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations since retiring as Dodgers manager in late 2010–with a brief break while he pursued ownership of the team–but the 71-year-old future Hall of Famer has decided to take on another managing gig.
Torre has been chosen as Team USA’s manager for the World Baseball Classic in March of 2013. Four years ago Davey Johnson managed the WBC team along with a star-studded coaching staff that included Mike Schmidt, Barry Larkin, Mel Stottlemyre, Billy Ripken, Reggie Smith, and Marcel Lachemann.
No word yet on who will be on Torre’s staff and presumably the WBC job won’t lead to Torre following in Johnson’s footsteps by eventually becoming an MLB manage again, but if anyone is well-equipped to manager a team full of All-Stars it’s certainly Torre. He managed 29 seasons for the Mets, Cardinals, Braves, Yankees and Dodgers, winning four World Series titles and two manager of the year awards.
Team USA finished in fourth place under Johnson in 2009 and tied for sixth place under manager Buck Martinez in 2006, with Team Japan winning both tournaments.
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.