The Yankees want to buy into the Premier League? Sure. . .

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This has been floating around for a couple of days, but the British tabloid the Daily Star reported on Sunday that the Yankees were considering buying Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League.  A couple of things about this report:

  • It comes in a newspaper which features topless models;
  • Despite having the topless models thing going for it — which I view as a positive, by the way — British tabloids are notorious for selling scare stories about foreigners ruining proper British institutions like soccer leagues and city streets and stuff. The only thing the Yankees-Spurs story needs in order to make it a perfect British tabloid cliche is scary south-Asian immigrants and/or young, sideways ballcap-wearing, bat-toting chavs intent on ruining tea time or village greens or whatever it is scared and reactionary British people fear modern society is ruining for them;
  • The primary quotes here come from Hank Steinbrenner, who is essentially the Fredo of the Steinbrenner family. Really, he may as well be going on about how you shouldn’t talk to Moe Greene and about how he’s “smaht” and was told that there was something in it for him, because if the Yankees are going to make a $600 million+ investment in anything, you can bet that Hank ain’t in on the discussion;
  • The story says that Hank played college soccer. Everyone was young once, but I can’t square the image of Hank Steinbrenner as photographed above with a college soccer player; and
  • The Yankees are smart. The history of American sports executives investing in English soccer is littered with dumb people making dumb decisions.  I can’t really picture Hal Steinbrenner plunking half the value of the Yankees into that kind of an investment.

But hey, at least we got an excuse to use the Hank smoking picture again, and that’s always fun.

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.