Jorge Posada

Mariners turned down trade for Jorge Posada in 1995

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In the wake of Jorge Posada’s retirement following an 1,829-game career spent entirely with the Yankees comes a story about how he was almost traded to the Mariners as a prospect way back in 1995.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times has the details:

Management deemed that they couldn’t afford Tino Martinez, so he was on the trade block. GM Woody Woodward focused on the Yankees, who needed a first-base replacement for retiring Don Mattingly. Posada at the time was a 23-year-old catcher who had spent the ’95 season at Triple-A Columbus. For Columbus, he had hit .255 with eight homers and 51 RBIs, striking out 101 times in 108 games. … Posada was a well-regarded prospect, nothing more, nothing less.

According to a story by long-time Mariners beat writer Bob Finnigan in the Seattle Times on Dec. 4, 1995, the Mariners nixed a trade that would have sent pitcher Sterling Hitchcock and Posada to the Mariners for Martinez and a reliever, either Jeff Nelson, Bill Risley, or, wait for it, Bobby Ayala. The same report of a nixed trade that would have sent Posada to the Mariners was in the New York Times and New York Daily News.

Stone goes on to say that the primary reason the Mariners backed out of the trade is that the Yankees insisted on including Posada instead of Seattle’s preferred target, Russ Davis. That changed a short time later when the Yankees signed Wade Boggs to play third base, making Davis expendable, at which point they traded him to the Mariners with Sterling Hitchcock for Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, and Jim Mecir.

And that 23-year-old prospect named Jorge Posada stayed with the Yankees and became one of the 20 best catchers in baseball history.

It turns out Seattle had a pretty good long-term answer behind the plate in Dan Wilson, but those star-studded teams of the late 1990s and would have been even more dangerous with Posada in a lineup that also included Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, and Jay Buhner.

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.