While contract talks between the Dodgers and ace Clayton Kershaw have been dormant for a couple of months now, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the two sides previously discussed a deal that would have given him the highest AAV (average annual value) in the history of the sport.
The idea nearly became reality earlier this season, when Kershaw was close to signing a record-setting, seven-year extension in the $210 million range, according to major league sources.
The Dodgers backed off, though, and the two sides have not negotiated in months, sources said. Talks are unlikely to resume until the offseason, and by then Kershaw’s price could be even higher.
The reported contract would have included an opt-out clause allowing Kershaw to test free agency after five years. Still, the structure of the deal carried an annual salary of around $30 million per season, topping Roger Clemens ($28 million – 2007) for the highest AAV ever. It also would have surpassed Justin Verlander’s $180 million extension for the richest contract ever given to a starting pitcher.
Rosenthal first reported that the two sides were making progress on a deal back in June, though at the time it was described as a seven-year deal in excess of $180 million. Kershaw was peeved that word leaked out back then, so he probably won’t be thrilled to learn that more details have become public. The 25-year-old southpaw is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter and could hit the free agent market next offseason.
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.