USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale hears that Alex Rodriguez intends to go down swinging.
Two people close to A-Rod told Nightengale that Rodriguez has no intention of negotiating a Biogenesis-related settlement with MLB and that he plans to appeal any suspension handed down.
Rodriguez’s penalty is expected to be more severe than the 65-game ban handed down to Ryan Braun on Monday. A person with knowledge of the investigation told Nightengale that the league is prepared to suspend A-Rod for at least 100 games. An appeal would make it unlikely that he serves any portion of a suspension this year.
Nightengale’s report comes less than a day after ESPNNewYork’s Wallace Matthews said Rodriguez was trying to cut a deal with the league.
Rodriguez, currently on the DL following hip surgery and now also rehabbing a strained quad, was the top billed of the players originally found to be clients of the now defunct Biogenesis clinic. That came four years after he originally admitted to using steroids in 2001-03 while playing for the Rangers. He’s still owed about $100 million through 2017 under the terms of his deal with the Yankees.
According to Nightengale, MLB is also investigating whether Rodriguez attempted to destroy Biogenesis materials that would have linked him to the clinic. The New York Daily News reported earlier this month that a former Biogenesis employee, Porter Fischer, tried to sell documents to Rodriguez for $1 million, but was turned down by the player and his representatives.
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.