Alex Rodriguez AP

Report: Alex Rodriguez decision “imminent,” ruling appears “favorable” for MLB

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UPDATE: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Horowitz is expected to rule on Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension today. Stay tuned.

11:35 a.m. ET: When yesterday passed without a ruling on Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension, the assumption was that we likely wouldn’t hear anything from arbitrator Fredric Horowitz until Monday at the earliest. As Ronald Blum of the Associated Press hears, that might not necessarily be the case:

People familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Friday that arbitrator Fredric Horowitz could issue his decision this weekend. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

So, basically, a ruling could come down this weekend. Or it might not. Fun times.

While Steven Marcus of New York Newsday also hears that a decision from Horowitz is imminent, he adds the following interesting nugget:

Rodriguez has previously vowed to fight any suspension from MLB in federal court, but he could face long odds to have his case heard or walk away vindicated. With that in mind, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reported Thursday that he has discussed the possibility of accepting a reduced suspension (less than 100 games) to put the matter behind him. However, if Horowitz sides with MLB and upholds the suspension in-full or close to it, the fight figures to continue.

Rodriguez, 38, is under contract for $25 million in 2014. With a pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka underway, the Yankees would obviously appreciate some clarity on the situation as they attempt to keep their payroll under the much-discussed $189 million threshold.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.