Shin-Soo Choo might have to join the army

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What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded
on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are
dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans
are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There
are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely
so many counties can’t all be worth dying for
:

Able-bodied South Korean men must serve two years in the military by
the time they turn 30 years old. For the 27-year-old Choo, who turns 28
in July, that deadline is coming up quick.

Choo spent his entire life preparing to become a professional
baseball player, and he refuses to walk away from the game at a point
where he should be entering his prime. He is hoping to get clearance
from the Indians to participate on the South Korean baseball team in
the 2010 Asian Games, which take place in November. If he does, and his
team wins a gold medal, Choo would receive an exemption from the South
Korean government . . . But what if Choo doesn’t get that clearance or the Korean team doesn’t win the gold?

I know that famous people are often exempted from compulsory military service, but having to serve (or not) based on winning the Asian Games seems even more arbitrary than the fame game itself. Of course, a rule that says “win a gold and you’re cool, win a silver and you’re cannon-fodder,” is certainly an effective motivator for winning those Asian games, so kudos to the guy who came up with that one.

According to the article, however, Choo has “a backup plan” for dealing with his military obligation. He won’t yet say what it is.  I can only assume the obvious until told otherwise.

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.