Going into the clubhouse and asking a manager who just lost the World Series if he is coming back next year is kinda like asking the widow at a funeral if she plans on remarrying. So it was understandable that Jim Leyland was not ready to talk about that stuff on Sunday night. Give it a day, though:
The decision has been made.
Indications are that Jim Leyland is coming back for an eighth year of managing the Tigers and that the club could make the announcement as early as today.
That’s Tom Gage of the Detroit News with the story. UPDATE: It’s official.
It makes sense. This will be a substantially similar team coming back next season and there is no better person than Leyland to manage it.
Leyland has bee at the helm for seven years. He’s 607-528 with two pennants and two division titles under his belt with the Tigers. You have to figure he’ll have this job as long as the Cabrera-Verlander-Fielder core is in tact and competitive.
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.