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The bankruptcy court gave the Dodgers something no other team has

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Bill Shaikin has a report up today that, while dealing with the often murky and confusing world of TV revenue and media rights, suggests that the big settlement of the litigation between Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball, the new Dodgers owners have benefits no other team has. Specifically: to hold back media money from revenue sharing that no other team would get to hold on to.

The Dodgers’ new owners could reap hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits from the confidential terms of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court settlement between former owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball …

Guggenheim Baseball, the Dodgers’ new owners, can negotiate a new television contract as soon as this fall, with Fox Sports, Time Warner Cable and perhaps CBS expected to bid. If the Dodgers accept an annual rights fee, they would simply pay 34% of whatever money they receive into the revenue-sharing pool.

However, the Dodgers are expected to pursue a regional sports network, on their own or in partnership with Fox, TWC or another television outlet. Guggenheim could establish a media company separate from the Dodgers, then have the company pay the team in accordance with the proposed Fox contract and keep the remaining revenue.

The difference here between what the Dodgers are doing on the one hand, and what the Yankees do with YES or the Red Sox do with NESN, is that 34%. In their cases, they pay that 34% of media rights fees — plus a surcharge if the team is getting lowballed by its sister regional sports network.  With the Dodgers, their new Fox deal is charged at 34%, but even if a new Dodgers cable network pays them tens of millions  more a year, and that money is not touched by MLB.

Shaikin suspects that this will cause some tensions within the ownership ranks, as the Dodgers — by virtue of litigation with an irresponsible former member of their ranks — got something they didn’t. Worth watching.

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.