No news has spun out since it was reported that Nolan Ryan was considering leaving the Texas Rangers as a result of him, apparently anyway, being bypassed in the chain of command for Jon Daniels. But Kirk Bohls of the Austin Statesmen spoke to a source who makes it sound like Ryan’s time with Texas is almost over:
Almost no one is betting he stays. One person very close to Ryan said it was “70-30” that he leaves, stung by his ill treatment. He’s never been one to make rash, emotional decisions.
He shrugged those massive shoulders that, combined with Earl Campbell-like thighs, made him one of the most feared pitchers in the game and said he would return home Tuesday to help with the Rangers’ two exhibition games in San Antonio later this week. Beyond that?
“I haven’t commented much on that,” he said in his distinctive Texas drawl, “so I’m going to leave that alone.”
There’s a Rangers exhibition series in San Antonio before Opening Day, and Ryan is supposed to be a big part of that. One gets the distinct impression that he’s gonna play his part there and then walk away as the season gets underway.
Which, well, whatever. I know there is an emotional connection between Ryan and the Rangers and, more importantly, Ryan and the Rangers fans. But if we’ve learned anything over the past decade or so, modern front offices are no place for nostalgia. If the decision makers with the Rangers don’t see Ryan as essential — and if we’re not dealing with some crazy dysfunctional management team here, which we aren’t — it’s hard to say what purpose Ryan staying really would serve.
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.