Tim Wakefield

Tim Wakefield has “strong desire” to return to the Red Sox

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Bobby Valentine wasn’t the only noteworthy guest for David Ortiz’s charity golf tournament in the Dominican Republic. Tim Wakefield was also in attendance for the event and told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that he has a “strong desire to pitch one more year for the Red Sox.”

Wakefield, who turned 45 in August, has been with Boston since 1995. He went 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA and 93/47 K/BB ratio over 154 2/3 innings this season. Though it took him nine tries, he finally got his 200th career win while the Red Sox were in the middle of their September collapse.

Wakefield has an ugly 5.22 ERA over the past two seasons, so it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox would give him a rotation spot, but they could bring him back as a long man out of the bullpen. While his agent Barry Meister said last month that it would be a “shame” if the veteran knuckleballer didn’t finish his career with Boston, Wakefield acknowledged yesterday that a move to the National League could be a possibility.

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.