To make room for second baseman Neil Walker’s return from the disabled list the Pirates designated for assignment outfielder Jose Tabata, who was once a top prospect acquired from the Yankees in exchange for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte in 2008.
Tabata never developed much power and so his bat has proven mediocre for an outfielder corner, but back when he still had some promise the Pirates signed him to a $15 million contract extension. That deal includes a $3 million salary this season, plus $4 million in 2015 and $4.5 million in 2016, which explains why he passed through waivers unclaimed.
It also explains why Tabata accepted an assignment to Triple-A rather than forfeiting the money to become a free agent. Tabata is still just 25 years old and hasn’t been a total bust, hitting .275 with a .717 OPS in 464 games, so it won’t be surprising if he’s back in Pittsburgh relatively soon. In the meantime he’s no longer on the 40-man roster.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
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.