David Robertson has been fantastic taking over for Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer, converting 31-of-33 save chances with a 2.62 ERA, .191 opponents’ batting average, and 71 strikeouts in 45 innings.
None of which should be a surprise, because for five seasons Robertson was one of the elite setup men in baseball. However, with free agency right around the corner this offseason it’s definitely ideal timing for Robertson, who looks set to cash in big on the open market at age 29.
He might end up re-signing with the Yankees, but it’ll cost them a whole lot more than it would have six months ago when Robertson was apparently willing to give them a hometown discount. Here’s what he recently told George King of the New York Post:
I thought the calls would come but at this point right now I am going to wait and see how the season plays out. It would have to be a legit offer at this point of the year. This offseason I probably would have gone for a discount, although I wasn’t a closer.
New York has another stud setup man in Dellin Betances, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Yankees outbid everyone else to keep Robertson at a premium price tag.
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.