Look, I realize this is tenuous at best, but every baseball newsmaker in the country was watching election stuff last night too rather than making baseball news so the pickings are slim this morning. Anyway:
- An issue on the ballot in Wilmington, North Carolina that would have spent $37 million in public funds to build a baseball stadium resoundingly failed. The Atlanta Braves backed it and would have moved a single-A team there if it had succeeded. Worth noting that $37 million is less than the annual pay of the CEO of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, so if they really wanted a ballpark there so bad they could have built it themselves;
- Connie Mack IV, the great grandson of Hall of Fame owner-manager Connie Mack, was beat in the Florida senate race. This comes 20 years after he got into a bar fight with former big leaguer Ron Gant, by the way;
- Ben Chandler, the grandson of former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler, lost his U.S. House seat in Kentucky.
- A former baseball writer/sabermetrician correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential race in all 50 states despite (a) being derided as a pansy-looking stat geek who lives in his mother’s basement; and (b) being marginalized as someone who is somehow unqualified to have insights on the subject about which he writes because he isn’t part of the journalist/pundit establishment which thinks data-free narratives and amorphous concepts like “momentum” and “gut feel” matter.
To sum up: a loss for a publicly funded ballpark, a loss for a guy who once punched a player I like in the crotch and a loss for the proudly innumerate. Not a bad night. Not a bad night at all.
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.