Adrian Beltre

The Rangers are going after Adrian Beltre. Have they lost out on Cliff Lee?

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Karl Ravech — via a tweet from Buster Olney — reports that the Texas Rangers are “moving aggressively” on Adrian Beltre.  Which suggests that they think they’re not going to get Cliff Lee, as there is no way Texas can sign both of them.  Earlier this morning we heard reports that the Yankees have been in touch with Lee’s agent. Is it possible — and I’m merely speculating — that Lee’s decision has been made and the Yankees have won?  This report would fit in quite nicely with that.

The problem: Michael Young, the Rangers’ incumbent third baseman.  Last week there were rumors that the Rangers were shopping him and would then pursue Beltre.  If they keep him around, however, where does he play? Not third base, because Beltre is an outstanding defensive third baseman. Possibly first base or in left field, but remember, Young is not a guy who takes well to moving positions. He had a major hissy fit when he was moved off shortstop. Not that I think Nolan Ryan cares about his infielders having hissy fits. Nor should he.

Personally, I think Adrian Beltre at just about any price he’d likely command on the market would be a better signing for Texas than Cliff Lee, so if they have lost out on the lefty, they may have actually won in the grand scheme of things.

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.