It’s safe to say the Twins won’t be getting a Christmas card from Michael Bourn, not after they filled the center field needs of two of his most likely suitors this winter.
With Denard Span in D.C., Ben Revere in Philadelphia, B.J. Upton in Atlanta and Angel Pagan in San Francisco, the market for Bourn is a complete mystery at this point. The Mariners like him, but Josh Hamilton is their top priority and it’s very hard to imagine them signing both. The Phillies won’t be paying Revere much more than the minimum, so theoretically, they could still sign Bourn for center and play Revere in left. However, they’re certainly much more interested in pitching after trading fourth starter Vance Worley for Revere.
The Cubs could be a fallback, as they have plenty of money to spend as they continue their rebuilding efforts. Still, it’d make a lot more sense for them to stay the course and groom Brett Jackson for center than commit $70 million or more to a 30-year-old who will likely be on the decline by the time they’re ready to contend.
Others? The Red Sox could consider a run if they trade Jacoby Ellsbury, but that seems like quite a long shot. The Indians came up with $11 million per year to offer Shane Victorino, but $15 million per year for Bourn would be a taller order. The Mets have the need, but not the money. Same goes for the Reds.
Bourn’s best hope for a big deal right now is for Hamilton to re-sign with the Rangers, leaving the Mariners to pursue their fallback option. Barring that, he might be best off taking a one-year deal and then going back on the market next winter.
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.