12:24 p.m. EST Update: DeJesus told the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin that he has come to terms on a two-year pact with the Rays that includes an option for 2016.
The Rays will hang on David DeJesus, according to Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, exercising his $6.5 million option rather than giving him a $1.5 million buyout.
Topkin also hears that the two sides are discussing a multiyear deal.
It’s a mildly surprising move from the Rays. DeJesus is worth the money, especially since the buyout essentially makes it a $5 million decision, but it takes away a great deal of the team’s flexibility, both financially and from a roster standpoint. Any talk of moving Desmond Jennings back to left field would now seem to be dead. DeJesus will become the primary left fielder against right-handers, which makes Matt Joyce mostly a DH. Ben Zobrist will play second against righties and maybe move back to the outfield against some lefties.
DeJesus, who turns 34 in December, hit .260/.328/.413 in 104 at-bats for the Rays and .251/.327/.402 in 391 at-bats overall last season. He’ll likely be viewed strictly as a platoon player by the Rays after hitting .174, .149 and .161 against lefties the last three years.
If a multiyear deal gets done, $10 million for two years would be a reasonable guess.
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.