The Marlins-Blue Jays trade occurred on the eve of the latest Owners Meeting. Which led to some awesome junior high school cafeteria stuff. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports:
Loria, according to one industry source, sat alone in the lunch room, not conversing with his fellow owners. Teams from the American League East were unhappy that the Blue Jays improved dramatically, clubs from the National League Central and West were displeased that the four other NL East members would be able to feast on the carcass posing as the Marlins and there was a general sense of embarrassment over the Marlins cutting bait just one year after opening a new ballpark built overwhelmingly with public monies.
And if you’re the Tampa Bay Rays or Oakland Athletics, more than a sense of embarrassment. For them — and any other sports owner who may want to get a new stadium in the foreseeable future — there should be anger.
Loria, both with the way the stadium deal went down in Miami, and now with this cynical, soul-killing trade, has given anti-ballpark advocates a ton of ammunition. He has likewise rendered the old “we need a ballpark to be competitive, just wait until we have one!” pitch of team owners even more obviously hollow than it ever was. Which is great if, like me, you oppose public stadium projects, but really has to tick off those who want one of their own.
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.