Ryan Braun’s suspension was first and, as the alleged public enemy number one — or two — of Major League Baseball, may eventually be seen as the most significant. But at the moment it sort of seems like small potatoes, all things considered.
Why? Because the Brewers season was already effectively over and it will all end for Braun and his team after the season ends. There are other Biogenesis suspensions, however, which will have a much bigger and potentially longer-lasting impact.
The ones to watch: Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, all of whom are reported to be in Major League’s sights, all of whom are playing for playoff contenders. Depending on what the league makes of Gio Gonzalez’s passing mention on the list, the Nationals could be affected too. Colon, depending on how the league views his inclusion vis-a-vis last year’s positive drug test, could be facing second offender discipline.
Do these players pull a Ryan Braun and take their medicine now? If so, they will deprive their teammates of key cogs just as the playoff stretch drive gets underway. Do they appeal? If so, they risk greater penalties, one assumes, legal costs and the likelihood that any discipline ultimately stretches into next year.
Can the A’s replace Colon in the rotation? Who plays shortstop for the Tigers if Peralta is gone? Nelson Cruz hit a big homer for the Rangers last night. Who is their deep threat with him gone?
Those are all less-sexy topics than bad boy Ryan Braun or badder boy Alex Rodriguez getting popped. But they have far greater actual baseball implications.
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.