Jerome Williams (or more accurately, mostly his agent) spent the past week talking about how he hoped to be non-tendered by the Angels because he believed other teams would be willing to give him a full-time rotation spot. And he got his wish last night, as they cut him loose rather than keeping the 32-year-old right-hander around for approximately $4 million via arbitration.
Here’s what agent Larry O’Brien told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times after the move:
Honestly, this could be a blessing in disguise. I believe there are a number of teams that will give him the chance to make 32 starts. Jerome is a horse. He can throw 250 innings. I think he’s going to turn some heads. We’ll find a team that’s going to give Jerome the ball every five days.
Worth noting: Williams has never, in his entire big-league career, started more than 25 games or thrown more than 170 innings in a season.
O’Brien was extremely outspoken in the days leading up to the Angels’ decision, basically saying Williams deserved better than they were going to give him. Of course, he also told various reporters that he’d be shocked if they non-tendered Williams and that’s exactly what they ended up doing. So … mission accomplished. Now we’ll see if he was right about Williams’ potential free agent market.
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.