Back in December of 1984 the White Sox acquired Ozzie Guillen from the Padres as part of a six-player trade that included LaMarr Hoyt going to San Diego.
Roland Hemold was the White Sox’s general manager at the time and recently spoke to a banquet audience about how Guillen came to be part of the trade:
I enlisted Jerry [Krause] to go find the best shortstop he could in the Triple-A ranks, and maybe we could make a trade and bring in a shortstop that we thought we needed. He watched Ozzie Guillen for a week in Las Vegas. And every day he would call me and say, “That little guy can play.” I never asked how much he weighed or anything, as long as Jerry said he could play.
We traded LaMarr Hoyt for Ozzie Guillen, sight unseen on my part. When Ozzie showed up at spring training straight from Venezuela, and I was told he was in the clubhouse, I went down to greet him and give him a good handshake. And he was sitting at the training table … with his shirt off and his baseball trousers on. I looked at that skinny kid, and I said, “Oh, I am so happy to have you here.” Then I went into the office and said, “I’m scared. I think we just signed a jockey.” Anyway, he became the Rookie of the Year.
Not only did Guillen win the Rookie of the Year award in 1985 (despite a .291 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage), he went on to play 13 seasons for the White Sox and is now in his eighth season as Chicago’s manager. And he’s even managed to put on a little weight since then.
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.