UPDATE: General manager Brian Cashman denied the New York Daily News report linked below, calling it “not accurate” and telling Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger that Rodriguez has not asked to skip the final road trip.
UPDATE #2: Joe Girardi also chimed in, saying he expects Rodriguez to be in Houston because “he does not have permission to not be there.”
Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News reports that Alex Rodriguez will not travel with the Yankees to Houston for the last series of the season, skipping the final three games in order to prepare for an arbitration hearing surrounding his performance-enhancing drug suspension.
According to Thompson the Yankees granted Rodriguez permission with the hearing scheduled for next week, which means it’s possible that tonight’s game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium could be A-Rod’s final game in a Yankees uniform for … well, a while.
Rodriguez is facing a 211-game suspension, but has been able to resume playing for the Yankees while his appeal is pending and hit .244 with seven homers and a .771 OPS in 44 games. That’s the lowest OPS of Rodriguez’s career, but still ranks third among all Yankees with at least 100 plate appearances this season behind only Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano.
Calcaterra wrote earlier this week about Rodriguez’s legal team, which could be costing him six figures per month.
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.