Jim Edmonds surprised many around the game by signing a minor league contract with the Cardinals yesterday. The 40-year-old outfielder was limited down the stretch last season due to a left Achilles injury, but he decided to return for his 18th major league season after undergoing surgery to repair the tendon last month.
According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said that Edmonds is no lock for the team.
“There is still some uncertainty about where he is physically. I’m not writing him in any way yet. It’s an opportunity.”
Edmonds will still have to pass a physical early next week. He could earn $1 million if he spends the entire season with the team.
If healthy, we know Edmonds can still rake. After sitting out the entire 2009 season, he batted .276/.342/.504 with 11 home runs and 23 RBI in 272 plate appearances between the Brewers and Reds last season. He was also just as useful as ever against right-handed pitching, batting .285 with nine homers and an .871 OPS over 200 at-bats.
It’s hard to really get worked up over a minor league deal, as Edmonds could prove to be a pretty capable backup outfielder for the club. He would also give Tony LaRussa one more reason to bench Colby Rasmus on occasion. And let’s face it, that always makes for excellent blog-fodder.
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.