After the Mariners signed second baseman Robinson Cano to a ten-year, $240 million contract two weeks ago, many predicted that the next shoe to drop would be a trade with the Rays for David Price. But reports indicated that the Rays would only let go of the left-hander if the Mariners included Taijuan Walker in the deal, and talks stagnated. Since then, the Rays haven’t been in any rush to offload their ace.
Via Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
That could change — if not in the next couple of weeks that typically are quiet in baseball than in January — as teams, some that have talked to the Rays and some that maybe have not, reassess needs and options, perhaps with more desperation. Resolution of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka’s status is a factor; if he isn’t available, that should increase the demand for Price (as well as remaining free agents Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana) because there would be one fewer frontline starter to be had.
But there is no deadline, no drop-dead date by which the Rays have to make a deal or tell Price he isn’t being traded.
Price is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. He earned just over $10 million in 2013 and will earn significant raises over each of the next two seasons, which may motivate the Rays to trade him sooner rather than later. The Rays currently have just under $40 million committed to ten players and have operated with an Opening Day payroll between $61-64 million over the last two years.
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.