Josh Beckett

How about just trading Cliff Lee for Josh Beckett?

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(Note: this scenario is presented entirely for fun. This is not an actual rumor or anything that ever figures to happen.)

The Phillies want to save some money and still compete next year. The Red Sox want to move on from Josh Beckett and still maybe contend this year. So, Cliff Lee for Beckett? Anyone?

Lee will make $25 million per year from 2013-15, plus a $27.5 million option or a $12.5 million buyout in 2016. Beckett is owed $15.75 million in 2013 and ’14. So, in making the deal, the Phillies would save $9.25 million each of the next two years and get completely out from under Lee’s 2015 and ’16 salaries.

Strictly as a baseball trade, I think it makes sense. The Phillies can contend next year, and  that extra cash would prove useful in aiding the offense. Neither Lee nor Beckett is lighting it up this year, but both still have pretty good peripherals. Lee is the older of the two by almost two years. The idea of Lee being worth about $9.25 million more than Beckett next year seems right on to me. That extra $37.5 million commitment for 2015 and beyond would be a tough pill for Boston to swallow, though.

Also, a big reason the Red Sox are considering moving Beckett is to attempt to squeeze under the luxury tax threshold. This kind of a trade would likely lock them into the luxury tax for two or three more years.

Of course, even pulling off the trade itself might be impossible. I imagine Boston is one of the 21 teams on Lee’s no-trade list, and it’s doubtful he’d want to trade his comfortable situation in Philadelphia for a spot in the troubled Red Sox clubhouse. Perhaps he could be enticed if the Red Sox offered to pick up his $27.5 million option for 2016, but that’d be a huge commitment for Boston and it still might not work.

Likewise, Beckett has full no-trade protection, and there’s no telling whether he’d be amenable to such a deal.

So, yeah, this isn’t going to happen. Still, I wonder if either team has at least brought it up. All of the Lee and Beckett possibilities getting tossed around these last couple of days have included some talk of the Phillies and Red Sox having to eat salary. The one way to avoid that would be to deal for another high-priced player.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.