Jered Weaver could have the top pitcher in this year’s free agent class, overtaking Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke. Instead, he’ll make $70 million over the next four years under the terms of the five-year, $85 million deal he signed with the Angels last August.
“I know people still talk about it, and how big some people still think it is,” Weaver told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale. “But honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s tough for me saying the contract is a discount. Come on, it’s $85 million. It’s more money than I ever thought I would make in my life. I’m happy with my decision, and I can just concentrate on playing baseball, which is more important to me.
“I’m happy. My family is happy. The fans and my teammates are happy,” he says. “If we play like we’re capable of in the second half and win this whole thing, that’s all the happiness I need.”
Weaver, who turns 30 in October, is 10-1 with an AL-best 1.96 ERA this season. It’s questionable whether he’ll pitch 200 innings this year — he missed much of June with a back injury — but he averaged 224 innings per year from 2009-11. As long as he finished this season healthy, it’s pretty much a sure thing that he would have gotten over $20 million per year for six or seven years this winter. The cash-rich Dodgers could have even gone so far to give him CC Sabathia month ($161 million over seven years) to turn coat.
But Weaver will never know, and at least publicly, he says that’s the way he likes it.
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.