Although the market for relievers seems in serious decline, especially in light of the Blue Jays’ trade for a closer and the Rockies’ struggles in giving Huston Street away, neither Ryan Madson or Francisco Rodriguez have any plans to accept arbitration offers, according to MLB Network’s Peter Gammons.
Madson and K-Rod would be very interesting cases in arbitration, given how rarely free agents actually test the process. Madson made $4.5 million last season and would surely command a significant raise, though with just one season of closing experience, he might have a difficult time persuading a panel to award him the $9 million-$10 million he figured to earn in his first season of a new multiyear deal. K-Rod made $11 million last season, and considering that he finished with a fine 2.64 ERA in 71 2/3 innings, it’d be hard to argue he deserves much of a paycut.
Of course, if they did accept arbitration, it’d be to serve as setup men in 2012, something that could hurt their market as they reenter free agency next year. The Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to close, and K-Rod wasn’t happy last year after becoming an eighth-inning guy in front of John Axford.
Madson, at least, will still get his money in a multiyear deal. Even though the market for closers appears very limited at the moment, someone will step up and offer him at least Heath Bell money (three years, $27 million).
Rodriguez isn’t likely to be as fortunate, and his best move financially would almost certainly be to take the Brewers up on their offer. Of course, since he’s already made $55 million as a major leaguer, he can afford to take less and be happy elsewhere.
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.