Kris Bryant was the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, hit .325 with 43 homers and a 1.098 OPS in 138 games between Double-A and Triple-A in his first full season as a pro, and will win a whole bunch of Minor League Player of the Year awards.
But he’s not being called up to the majors by the Cubs while a bunch of his Triple-A teammates get September promotions.
So what does Bryant think of that? Here’s what he told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:
I think now more than ever, I’m realizing this game is a business, and all I can do is go out there and play as hard as I can and make it really hard on the guys in charge. I think I did that this year. If I’m taking that mindset, then I’m not really going to be sitting there with my head down at the end of the year.
Bryant’s lack of a promotion is due to the Cubs not having to add him to the 40-man roster yet and not wanting to start his MLB service time, which was all news to Bryant:
It’s kind of funny, all the rules. Coming into professional baseball, I had no clue. I didn’t pay any attention to it in college, either. At the end of my first season, I kind of know the lingo about all this stuff. I guess the system works in some ways, and in some ways there are some flaws. I can’t focus on that. I’ve always been high on avoiding the distractions.
Based on merit alone Bryant would already be in the majors, but the Cubs want to keep him under team control for as long as possible and they aren’t going anywhere this season anyway. That probably annoys Bryant quite a bit, but he’s handling it well publicly and the Cubs are just doing what almost every team would do in the same situation. Blame the rules, not the team taking advantage of them.
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.