Davey Johnson, Bo Porter

Report: Astros to name Bo Porter manager

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Bo Porter has been a popular name on the managing carousel for a few years now, and it was no surprise to learn the Astros would give him serious consideration for their vacancy. According to FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal, he’ll be Houston’s next manager.

Porter, who was previously a finalist for jobs in Florida and Pittsburgh, is currently serving as the Nationals’ third base coach.

A 40th-round pick out of the University of Iowa in 1993, Porter fought long and hard to reach the majors in 1999. He never could establish himself there — he ended up hitting .214 with two homers in 126 at-bats over three seasons — but there’s no denying he made the most of his talent. After retiring in 2003, he started coaching in the minors in 2005. He reached the majors as the Marlins’ third-base coach just two years later.

By taking the Houston job now, Porter passed on the possibility that a more attractive opportunity might present itself later. But on the plus side, he won’t face any pressure to win right away. The Astros are bringing in plenty of smart people, but it’s going to be a long time before they’re in any sort of position to contend in the AL West.

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.