Jason Bartlett

UPDATE: Rays and Orioles no longer working on Bartlett for Reimold swap

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UPDATE: So much for that. Multiple sources are now reporting that the Bartlett-for-Reimold talks hit a snag and the deal is unlikely to happen. Perhaps the Orioles came to their senses.

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It’s no secret that the Rays have been trying to trade Jason Bartlett and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that they’re close to sending the 31-year-old shortstop to the Orioles for Nolan Reimold.

According to Connolly talks between the two teams are “heating up” and “one source expects it to happen today.”

Bartlett is one season away from free agency and set to receive a raise from his $4 million salary in 2010 via the arbitration process despite an underwhelming performance, but the Orioles have been linked to various shortstop options throughout the offseason and are clearly looking for veteran help at the position.

Reimold had a strong rookie season in 2009 before undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn Achilles’ tendon and struggled to bounce back this year, spending most of the season at Triple-A. Tampa Bay presumably views him as the replacement for Carl Crawford in left field, or at least as part of the replacement plan along with top prospect Desmond Jennings.

Assuming the Rays feel confident about Reimold medically getting a 27-year-old potential impact bat who’s cheap and under team control for another five seasons for a mediocre 31-year-old free agent-to-be shortstop is a very nice move.

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.