melky cabrera getty

No, Melky Cabrera did not make out like a bandit from his Blue Jays deal

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Buster Olney cast aspersions on Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista took offense. Now Olney fires back in his column. After quoting Bautista’s comments about how Melky has done the crime and the time and should be allowed to get on with his life, and after quoting Richard Griffith’s argument that Cabrera is not a poster boy for cheating being worthwhile, Buster says  . . .

I’d respectfully disagree . . .Just because somebody doesn’t make as much as Ryan Braun doesn’t mean cheating isn’t worthwhile, and it’s hardly a stretch to suggest that Cabrera made extra cash through his past transgression . . . He signed with the Royals for $1.25 million in 2011 and became a star, at a time when he reportedly became a client of Biogenesis. He was suspended in 2012 while playing for the San Francisco Giants, and the Blue Jays then signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal before anybody knew about Tony Bosch and Biogenesis.

That last little bit is kinda clever: “before anybody knew about Tony Bosch and Biogenesis.” It implies that Melky made his $16 million from the Jays under false pretenses. Which is silly considering the guy was suspended for testing positive for drugs while still with the Giants. My memory is a bit fuzzy about it all, but I seem to recall that a few papers even wrote some stuff about it.

Did Melky get an unfair advantage from cheating? Absolutely. But every cent he’s made from the Blue Jays and every cent he’s making going forward was and will be made with full knowledge of his past transgressions and with the risk of him either cheating again or turning into a pumpkin priced into the deal. If he hadn’t been busted while in San Francisco he would have stood to make way, way more than that. Indeed, conservative estimates before his suspension were that he’d get $50 million over four years, maybe more. Rather than get a windfall as a result of his cheating, Melky took a pretty big hit, financially speaking.

I realize it drives some people crazy that baseball is cool with punishing guys for taking PEDs, letting them back in the game and allowing them to make a living as if they weren’t murderers or something, but that is how it works. Ask the Cardinals and Jhonny Peralta. Ask the Orioles and Nelson Cruz. Ask any number of other players who have taken drugs, gotten suspended and have come back. And it’s how it should work. Punish a guy sharply when he crosses the line. Test players constantly to deter them from cheating. But when a guy has done the time, let him be unless or until he cheats again.

If you don’t like that — and Buster here clearly does not — advocate for lifetime bans on the first offense or get the hell off your high horse.

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.