Boston Red Sox Carl Crawford slaps hands with a teammate after scoring a run against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of American League MLB baseball action at Fenway Park in Boston

Report: Red Sox, Marlins talking about a trade involving Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell

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UPDATE: Olney just killed everyone’s buzz. BUT I STILL BELIEVE, MAN!

2:01 PM: This sounds like a total hot mess of a trade rumor, but I freakling LOVE hot messes, so:

Nightengale has updated it with a longer story citing three sources. Wowzers. Where to begin.

On a dollars and cents scale, this would easily be one of the biggest trades in baseball history, as Crawford, Ramirez and Bell are owed nearly $240 million among them.  It would also involve a big problem (Bell stinks this year) a lesser, but more chronic problem (Ramirez’s increasingly erratic production and always interesting attitude) and an absolute sell-low guy (Crawford, who is TWO GAMES back from injuries and still near the beginning of a monster deal).

Given the ascension of Will Middlebrooks, this would certainly mean that Ramirez would be a shortstop again. Which would make his bat more valuable, but it’s a position one wonders how long he can handle. Crawford’s game may be better suited to Marlins Park, but again, why the Red Sox would give up on him now when his stock can only rise? It’s not like the Marlins are going to take that whole contract on, are they?

Such a trade would raise more questions than it would answer. I don’t get it, and I suspect that this is just one of those things people shoot the breeze about more than they seriously contemplate it.

But if it were to happen? Wow!

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.