We heard last weekend that Evan Longoria was close to ramping up his rehab from a hamstring injury, but it turns out that he’s not quite ready.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the team said after last night’s game that Longoria will not resume baseball activities until after the All-Star break. Meanwhile, Rays manager Joe Maddon conceded that his return is “not right around the corner.”
Longoria has been sidelined since suffering a partially torn left hamstring back on April 30. The 26-year-old third baseman began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham last month, but he was shut down again after experiencing some discomfort in his second game. He’ll likely need a few weeks to get ready once he resumes baseball activities, so his absence is likely to stretch into August at this point.
Longoria was hitting .326/.433/.561 with four home runs, 19 RBI and a .994 OPS in 23 games prior to the injury. The Rays are 29-32 without him and entered today’s action at 44-30, seven games behind the Yankees in the American League East and 1 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race.
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.