I’m gonna be sick to death of this stuff by January, but man, I forgot how much I loved the scuttlebutt, rumors, slanders, lies, hyperbole and general silliness of the hot stove season. And it hasn’t truly begun until you start hearing things about Scott Boras clients, be it stuff from Boras himself or from people who are speculating about what his clients are demanding.
Up next: Michael Bourn, who CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury has heard is seeking a contract of around $100 million.
Before you say anything, let’s remember something about how offseasons work. (1) people sign big contracts; (2) everyone mocks the contracts as silly and crazy and oh my god they’re going to bust the team; and (3) within a couple of years most of them don’t look too terribly bad and even the real clunkers end up being more annoying than team-killing. Hell, even Barry Zito got some redemption this year. Add into that the fact that so many teams have so much more money now due to the big TV deals dropping and you’ll quickly realize that we’re entering a different world.
With that large caveat aside, if Bourn does get $100 million, we certainly are entering a much different financial world than the one we currently know. He’s a good player. Great on defense, can steal some bases and is in the lineup every day. But he sported a 274/.348/.391 batting line in his walk year and that’s better than his career line. He’s a 90 OPS+ guy. Dave Roberts without the legendary playoff steal.
Which is really nice, actually. But that skill set has not previously garnered anyone $100 million, and it’s hard to see how it might now, even in this brave new world.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
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.