Over the weekend agent Darek Braunecker made headlines and drew criticism for saying he “wouldn’t anticipate” Cliff Lee re-signing with the Mariners, with my main beef being that there’s just no need to say stuff like that six months from free agency and immediately after Lee’s first start.
Lee apparently agreed, because he quickly tried to downplay the quotes, and now Braunecker has done his best to backtrack:
I can tell you this much, based on Cliff Lee’s initial impression of the Seattle Mariners organization, the city of Seattle, the club overall … Cliff is as excited as he can be about being there. What his future holds is anybody’s guess. We don’t know. We haven’t had any substantive conversations with the organization. …
You never anticipate a deal with any club. The bottom line is we can’t anticipate any moves. But if the question is, do we anticipate Cliff not having an interest in being in Seattle long term, that would be the furthest thing from the truth. I can tell you, unequivocally, that he’s enjoyed everything about it, as we anticipated.
Without question, Cliff Lee’s primary criteria moving forward is how long and how sustainable is the high level of success for that club. That’s what Cliff Lee is looking at with this club and in hopes of being able to participate in a postseason with the Seattle Mariners. What happens from there is anybody’s guess at this juncture.
As a wise man once said: “Take it easy, Champ. Why don’t you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while.”
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.