The Red Sox have reportedly identified Mike Napoli as their No. 1 target in free agency, but they are also weighing the alternatives.
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Red Sox are talking to Adam LaRoche as a potential fallback option for first base. The Red Sox have made a three-year offer to Napoli, but it’s believed that he wants a four-year deal. The Rangers and Mariners are his other prominent suitors.
Heyman hears that the Nationals have been “fairly steadfast” in offering LaRoche a two-year deal and they could hold firm on that acquiring Denard Span earlier today, as Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth project to play the corners while Michael Morse could simply slide over to first base. Of course, it’s still possible the Nationals could re-sign LaRoche and entertain trade offers for Morse.
LaRoche, 33, batted .271/.343/.510 with 33 home runs, 100 RBI and an .853 OPS this past season and also won his first Gold Glove award. He declined a $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Nationals in order to test free agency, so whoever signs him would have to surrender a draft pick.
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.