UPDATE: Forget that arbitration nonsense below, the Phillies just signed Blanton to a three-year, $24 million extension. And no, Cliff Lee would not have signed for that, so I suppose the Phillies are better off today than they were yesterday.
11:30 A.M.: Lost (by me anyway) in all of the arbitration stuff these past few days was the fact that Joe Blanton has asked for $10.25 million and the Phillies have countered with $7.5 million.
Deep Thought #1: If the Phillies are willing to pay Joe Blanton $7.5 million — and risk paying him $10.25 million — why weren’t they willing to pay Cliff Lee $9 million and deal Blanton for a reliever or something? Yeah, I know Lee walks next year, but if there is any team that should be in win-now mode it’s the the Phillies, and for the price of $1.5 million, they could have drastically-increased their chances of winning it all.
Deep Thought #2: Tim Lincecum was probably insulted by the Giants’ $8 million offer from the get-go, but I wonder how he reacted when he learned that he, a two-time Cy Young award winner, was offered a mere half million than Joe “basically average” Blanton?
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.