We’ve heard the Dodgers connected to Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino in recent weeks, but it seems they are also considering another player on the Phillies’ roster.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Dodgers have “some interest” in shortstop Jimmy Rollins. It’s not clear whether the Phillies are seriously considering parting with their longest-tenured player, but Knobler notes that the club has been “disappointed by his play this year” and thought he “could have done more” to guide them while Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were sidelined.
It’s probably a far-fetched possibility, but Rollins would represent an upgrade for the Dodgers, who have combined to hit just .227/.284/.302 from of the shortstop position this season. Dee Gordon is responsible for most of that and is expected to be sidelined until mid-August following surgery earlier this month to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.
In the first year of a three-year, $33 million contract, Rollins is hitting .261/.315/.414 with eight home runs, 33 RBI, 14 stolen bases and a .729 OPS in 87 games. His contract includes an $11 million vesting option for 2015. Even if the Phillies find a taker, Rollins has 10-and-5 rights and can control his own destiny. The 33-year-old is a California native.
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.