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Andre Ethier not putting deadline on contract talks with Dodgers

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During the midst of the Frank McCourt mess, there were rumblings that Andre Ethier would look to join his friend Dustin Pedroia in Boston when he became a free agent after this season.

A lot has changed with the first-place Dodgers (who won their sixth straight game on Tuesday night) since then, and Ethier apparently isn’t in any hurry to go anywhere. My how things change.

Ethier told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that he was not going to set a deadline on contract talks with the Dodgers, even as the season progresses and free agency draws near.

“We’ll take a look at whatever they bring to us,” Ethier said. “I don’t look at it any other way. I’m not going to sit here and play what-ifs and what-nots.”

Ethier said the team has yet to make a formal offer, but Shaikin reports that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti has already discussed the idea of re-signing Ethier with team president Stan Kasten.

Ethier is hitting .314 with nine home runs and a .950 OPS so far this season. The right fielder is a two-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove in 2012.

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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.