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The bullpen shuffle: the Phillies designate Chad Qualls for assignment, option Joe Savery

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The Phillies bullpen is a hot mess, and two of the messier parts of it have been Chad Qualls and Joe Savery.  They gone now, however, as the team has DFA’d Qualls and has optioned Savery to Lehigh Valley.

Qualls has a 4.60 ERA and has allowed 39 hits in 31 and a third innings. Savery has been worse, sporting a 5.87 ERA and has allowed 26 hits and seven walks in 23 innings. And whether this is cause or effect, the fact is that the Phillies were 0-17 in games in which Savery pitched this year.

In their place, the Phils have called up lefty reliever Jeremy Horst and righty Brian Sanches. Sanches was part of the hot mess brigade earlier this season for Philly, but he has been much better since he’s been down at triple-A and has apparently earned a second chance. Horst has been even better, posting an ERA of 2.11 in 38 and a third innings for the Iron Pigs.

Rearranging deck chairs? Eh, maybe. But sometimes that works with bullpens.

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.