As first reported by Jeff Blair of the Toronto Globe and Mail, Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez has been diagnosed with a fractured right ankle and will miss the next 6-8 weeks.
The 36-year-old Ordonez had been battling ankle soreness for over a week, but he did major damage on Saturday when he was thrown out at the plate in the third inning. It’s obviously a serious blow to the Tigers, who are chasing the White Sox in the American League Central while also trying to fight off a talented third-place Twins team.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski will almost certainly ramp up his efforts to find a middle-of-the-order bat and the deadline to make such a deal is July 31.
There’s another element to this story. Ordonez signed a five-year, $75 million contract back in 2005 that included a hefty $15 million club option for 2011. But that option is no longer guaranteed if he fails to reach 540 plate appearances this season, and it certainly appears that he won’t. He’s sitting on 365 PAs right now.
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.