When the Twins traded Denard Span last week the assumption was that they did so in part because Ben Revere was ready to step in as their new center fielder and leadoff man, but now they’ve traded Revere to the Phillies.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com broke the news and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com says the Twins are getting right-hander Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May in return.
Minnesota has an incredible lack of quality pitching throughout the organization and one area where the Twins have good depth is the outfield, where former first-round pick Aaron Hicks could be ready to become the starting center fielder at some point in 2013. Revere is very fast and very good defensively, but he has zero power and a fairly limited overall upside, so if the Twins feel Hicks will be ready soon anyway it makes some sense.
Revere has tremendous range in center field that more than makes up for perhaps the worst arm in baseball and he’s capable of swiping 50 bases at a good clip, but he may never hit an over-the-fence homer and through age 24 he’s hit .278 with a .319 on-base percentage and .323 slugging percentage. For years he’s been compared to Juan Pierre, for better or worse.
Worley missed the final month of the season with an elbow injury that required minor surgery, but when healthy the 24-year-old right-hander has a 3.50 ERA in 278 career innings with a solid strikeout rate of 7.7 per nine frames. Long term Worley is a mid-rotation guy, but on the Twins right now he immediately becomes their best starter. Barring more trades, of course.
May is a 22-year-old former fourth-round pick who spent this year at Double-A, posting a 4.87 ERA while racking up 151 strikeouts in 149 innings. He has control issues, but May was a top-100 prospect coming into the season and has 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings for his pro career. Minnesota wanted young pitching and they definitely got it.
(Note: I also wrote a much lengthier, Twins-centric analysis of the Revere trade.)
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.