Gotta give David Ortiz credit for confidence. When he started in with
that “I love Boston and I want to retire with the Red Sox” stuff last week, I thought it
was the prelude to a campaign to get his $12.5 million 2011 option picked up. Big Papi
is obviously not so constrained in his vision, however. He doesn’t merely want an additional year. He wants a multi-year deal:
“I’m going to tell you, I ain’t going nowhere . . . I
don’t want one year. Why should I return for one year and go through
the same [stuff] I’m going through now, just because it’s my last year?
No. I like to be left alone when I’m playing baseball. I know how to
clean my [stuff] up.”
Never mind that this little campaign of Ortiz’s involves convincing Theo Epstein to do what he’d never, ever do, and that’s giving a multi-year deal to an aging slugger whose slow starts suggest he could totally lose it at any moment and who, for added flavor, spent half a season attempting to start up negotiations through the media.
Yes, Ortiz is having a nice season. Yes, he’s immensely popular in Boston. But no, that doesn’t change the fact that there are a million reasons for the Red Sox to go no more than one year with Ortiz beyond 2010, and at a lower salary than he’s currently making.
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.