Jon Paul Morosi is back on the “The WBC is the Be-All, End-All of Baseball” beat this morning:
He’s right, you know. If the U.S. doesn’t win this thing all of the U.S. players are going to defect to play in Cuba or Japan. Guys here will falsify their ages in order to catch the eye of Dominican scouts. In order to stanch the talent flow Major League teams are going to have to demand posting fees and things. It’s really going to change it all.
Seriously, though: Can we not acknowledge that baseball is an international game, not just a U.S. game (and that it’s not even the number one sport in the U.S.)? And that, yes, it’s quite possible that individual All-Star teams made up of people from other countries may be better than U.S. All-Star teams? And that even if that happens, baseball played in America, by people from all over the world, is still the top of the sport?
I’m not sure what’s so hard about this. I’m not sure why, however much you like the idea of the WBC, you can’t acknowledge that dividing up players by nations, however, interesting, doesn’t say anything meaningful about the state of sport.
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.