Alex Avila just returned from a hamstring injury late last week, but now he’s hurting again.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Avila is out of tonight’s lineup against the Rangers due to renewed soreness in his left knee. It’s a troubling development, as he missed a couple days in the early part of May due to soreness in the same knee and had problems with both knees down the stretch and into the postseason last year.
Avila acknowledged that he felt pain in the knee during Sunday’s game while Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he “could tell he wasn’t feeling right.” The 25-year-old backstop was sent for an MRI this morning and the Tigers should know more about his status after he is examined by the Rangers’ team doctor tonight.
Avila is 1-for-14 with two walks in four games since returning from the disabled list and is hitting .234/.324/.396 with five home runs, 20 RBI and a .720 OPS over 177 plate appearances this season. He has thrown out 33 percent (15-for-45) of attempted basestealers.
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.