Leyland: Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit not available tonight

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Jim Leyland just did his little meet-and-greet with the media and said that Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit will not pitch in today’s potential elimination game. Or, to quote Leyland:

“I want to try to get through this game with Verlander and Coke”

I presume he means Phil, but for as dicey as this series is getting for the Tigers, who knows?

Seriously, though, he’s just facing facts here.  Benoit and Valverde can’t have a thing left in the tank given how much they’ve been used lately.  This is Justin Verlander’s game to win or lose. And to that end I put the over/under on how many pitches he throws at approximately three trillion.  Really, we might just see his arm fall clean off in this game. And even as it dangles by a tendon, it’s probably the best option Jim Leyland has.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.