Mets owner Fred Wilpon told Ian Begley of ESPN New York earlier today that he would like former general manager Omar Minaya to remain with the organization in an advisory role.
“I think Omar is a very good man and a very good person also,” Wilpon said at the Police Athletic League’s 18th annual Sportsnite at Cirpiani Restaurant. “I think [finding] the right position for Omar is going to be helpful for Omar and helpful for this organization.”
Minaya had a sit-down with new Mets general manager Sandy Alderson earlier this month in order to discuss that very possibility, though the club is currently waiting to hear if he’s truly interested in sticking around. The Mets still owe him $1.1 million per year through 2012.
Wilpon didn’t say that he had a specific job description in mind for Minaya, but indicated that he’d like to see him involved with scouting, possibly with a focus on international talent. Considering that three of the Mets’ top prospects — Jenrry Mejia, Cesar Puello and Wilmer Flores — are all from Latin America, that sounds like it would be right up his alley, assuming Alderson is on board.
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.