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Shin-Soo Choo says DUI arrest has led to struggles at plate

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Here’s an interesting note from the Associated Press concerning the recent offensive struggles of Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo:

Choo believes he is thinking too much and trying too hard to make a good impression since he was charged with drunken driving.

The note is not accompanied by any kind of quote from Choo, so we’ll just have to assume that the Korean-born outfielder has indeed expressed that DUI-related frustration to reporters. The numbers certainly add up.

Choo was arrested on May 2 for driving under the influence of alcohol outside downtown Cleveland. He blew a .201 blood-alcohol level in a state where the legal blood-alcohol limit is .08. Since that arrest, the 28-year-old outfielder has hit just .233/.316/.320 with one home run and seven RBI in 27 games. He has struck out 30 times and drawn just 10 walks in that span. This from a guy who still owns a superb .857 career OPS.

Choo is batting sixth in the Indians’ lineup Sunday for the first time this season. He normally bats third.

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.