According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Angels are willing to part with Peter Bourjos in order to upgrade their bullpen and could consider dealing Kendrys Morales as well.
Bourjos, perhaps baseball’s premier defensive center fielder, has been made expendable in Anaheim by the emergence of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. Still, there are a lot of teams that would love to have him. A lifetime .252/.302/.413 hitter, he’ll make close to the minimum again next year and he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.
The market for Morales would be more limited, since he’s probably still not ready to be an everyday first baseman after tearing up his ankle a couple of years ago. Also, he’s been pretty average offensively this year with a .284/.330/.428 line and nine homers in 264 at-bats.
The Angels are hoping to shore up both their rotation and pen, and they’re in the market for big names like Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke. The Phillies and Brewers both likely would have some interest in Bourjos. The Nationals would surely love to have him, but with Drew Storen still trying to work his way back from elbow surgery, it’d be difficult for them to part with the relief help (likely Tyler Clippard) the Angels would want in return.
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.