Tigers sign Joaquin Benoit to three-year, $16.5 million deal

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UPDATE: Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes says the deal is for three years and $16.5 million, with another $1 million in incentives each season. MLB Trade Rumors notes that it’s the biggest contract signed by a non-closer reliever since Scott Linebrink in November of 2007.

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According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com the Tigers “are nearing a multi-year agreement with right-hander Joaquin Benoit” and “the deal could be for as long as three years.”

Benoit was nearly unhittable this season for Tampa Bay, throwing 60 innings with a 1.34 ERA, .147 opponents’ batting average, and 75/11 K/BB ratio and did so while making peanuts after the Rays picked him up off the scrap heap following shoulder surgery.

That he’s now on the verge of getting a three-year deal just 12 months after being available to anyone who wanted him for $1 million speaks to how amazing Benoit was in his comeback and also to the type of risk the Tigers are taking to add another power arm to their bullpen. When healthy Benoit has consistently been a top-notch setup man, but his last healthy and effective season before this one was 2007 and even setting aside his injury history signing a 33-year-old reliever to a three-year deal is always a big risk.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.