UPDATE: Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that the White Sox and Abreu have a deal, pending a physical. The two sides have agreed to a six-year, $68 million contract, confirming Rosenthal’s original report.
10:36 p.m. ET: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports confirms that the Rangers will not sign Abreu. He also hears that the White Sox are the favorites.
9:32 p.m. ET: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News hears that despite the Rangers’ interest, the White Sox are still expected to land Abreu.
9:15 p.m. ET: It’s not a done deal yet. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers are “definitely making a push” for Abreu. While the White Sox are also in the mix, one source familiar with the negotiations tells Sullivan that Texas is expected to sign him. Stay tuned.
8:40 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Cuban slugger Jose Abreu is close to finalizing terms on a six-year, $68 million contract. The 26-year-old is expected to land with the White Sox, confirming speculation from reports earlier today.
If true, this deal would be the richest first-time contract ever for an international player, topping Yu Darvish’s six-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers. And just to compare this with other high-profile players from Cuba, Yasiel Puig inked a seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers last June while Yoenis Cespedes received a four-year, $36 million contract from the Athletics two offseasons ago.
Abreu might not be as dynamic as Puig or Cespedes, but he’s highly regarded for his power potential. Assuming the deal gets one, he’ll take over first base from Paul Konerko in Chicago.
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.