Joe Blanton

Report: Angels sign Joe Blanton for two years, $15 million

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The Angels are staying busy Wednesday, picking up Joe Blanton on a two-year, $15 million contract to add to their rotation.

The deal includes an option for 2015, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Blanton went 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA for the Phillies and Dodgers last season, though he did post a fine 166/34 K/BB ratio in the process. He’s a pretty good fit in a big Angels Stadium that hasn’t been yielding a lot of home runs of late.

Blanton will presumably be the fourth starter in a rotation that also includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hanson, with one more pitcher still to be signed. With Blanton making $7.5 million and Hanson due about $4 million in arbitration, the Angels should still have at least $8 million-$12 million left to spend on a No. 3 starter with Dan Haren and Ervin Santana having departed and Zack Greinke almost sure to join them.

Assuming the Angels do land that additional starter, then Garrett Richards will head back to Triple-A for more seasoning.

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.