Carl Pavano beats Red Sox, continues to thrive for Twins

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Ron Gardenhire said before this afternoon’s Target Field opener that he was glad the Twins had Carl Pavano lined up for the start because the 34-year-old right-hander had pitched for the Marlins in the World Series and on a big stage with the Yankees.
Yankees fans who watched his forgettable five-year stint in New York will probably get a chuckle out of that notion and it seems far-fetched to me too, but there’s denying how well Pavano has pitched since joining the Twins in the middle of last season.
Acquired from the Indians in early August for mid-level pitching prospect Yohan Pino, Pavano tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox today and is now 7-4 with a 4.15 ERA and 69/17 K/BB ratio in 86.2 innings for the Twins. He also pitched well in his lone playoff start last October, holding the Yankees to a pair of runs over seven innings in a tough loss.
Pavano’s name will forever bring up bad memories for Yankees fans and because of that he’ll probably never live down the reputation for being an oft-injured disappointment, but he hasn’t missed a start since 2008 and has reemerged as a very solid mid-rotation starter. Regardless of the size of the stage.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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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.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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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.