Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis sent to White Sox for Zach Stewart, Brent Lillibridge

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The White Sox announced after Sunday’s game that they’ve acquired Kevin Youkilis from Boston in exchange for right-hander Zach Stewart and utilityman Brent Lillibridge.

The Red Sox are also sending $5.5 million in cash to help cover Youkilis’ salary, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

“I just got off the phone with him, he’s very excited to join our club and he’s got a little edge to him that I like,” White Sox GM Kenny Williams said. “I can’t tell you exactly what he said, but he wants to come in and prove some people wrong.”

Youkilis will take over at the hot corner for the White Sox. Brent Morel, who opened the season with the job, is out with a back injury and there is no timetable for his return. He was struggling mightily anyway, and he’ll likely be optioned to Triple-A once healthy.

The Red Sox are now committed to Will Middlebrooks at third, and they’ll see if Stewart and Lillibridge can help in lesser roles. Stewart, 25, had a 6.00 ERA in one start and 17 relief appearances for the White Sox this season. He’s to join the rotation at Triple-A Pawtucket for now. Extremely homer-prone up to this point of his major league career — he’s allowed 21 in 97 1/3 innings — he figures to benefit from getting out of U.S. Cellular Park. While Fenway is still a hitter’s park, it’s not a home run park.

Lillibridge was outstanding in his bit role last year, hitting .258/.340/.505 with 13 homers in 186 at-bats. This year, he’s returned to previous form, with a .175 average, no homers and 26 strikeouts in 63 at-bats. On the plus side, he’s a good defensive outfielder, and he’s capable of playing anywhere in the infield, though he’s well below average at second base and short.

Youkilis, who was drafted by Boston back in 2001, went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple Sunday in his final game for the Red Sox. He’s hitting .233/.317/.377 in 146 at-bats this season.

 

Read more: Directionless Red Sox hope for addition by subtraction

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.