We heard earlier this week that Mike Napoli met with the Mariners, but he has at least two more stops on his itinerary in the coming days.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Napoli is meeting with the Red Sox this weekend while Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM hears that he will meet with the Rangers next week.
Napoli reportedly wants a four-year contract, which is something the Mariners might be willing to do. Duquette hears that the Rangers are unlikely to offer him more than three years, so they would be hanging their hats on Napoli’s desire to stick around and play for a winner. The Red Sox are also holding firm on three years for now.
With Geovany Soto likely to be non-tendered, the Rangers are expected to be in the market for a catcher this winter. Buster Olney of ESPN.com mentioned Russell Martin as a possibility earlier this month while Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reported this week the Rangers could target Blue Jays catchers J.P. Arencibia or John Buck in trades. The Red Sox are already listening to offers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway and would have a bigger surplus if they ended up signing Napoli.
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.