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The Yankees are close to landing Russell Martin

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I can’t remember the last time so much has been said so early in the offseason about so minor a free agent as Russell Martin, but I guess that’s what happens when Boston and New York get involved.  The latest: Buster Olney says that he believes the Yankees will soon reach an agreement with Russell Martin.*

Martin retains some on-base skills, but his average and power have dissipated in recent years. Last year he hit .248/.347/.332 before going out with a hip injury.

In New York he’d be Jesus Montero insurance. At least that would be the hope, because it would mean that Montero won the starting job.  If he’s starting it means that things haven’t gone according to plan. Or I guess it could mean that Montero has been traded for some pitching in the wake of Cliff Lee signing with the Mystery Mastodons of Midland, Michigan in the Midwestern League.

In other news: Francisco Cervelli: call your agent.

*Note: in an early version of this I said that Buster reported that the Yankees and Martin would “soon announce an agreement.”  That was obviously me reading Buster’s tweet too quickly and sloppily. Apologies.

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.