For the first time in months, Jeff Loria met the press. He did so at last night’s Marlins game. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post has a detailed rundown of the interview. This was a the highlight for me. Loria was asked if he realizes fans hate him:
I have a sense of it. I’m sorry that we’ve built this amazing ballpark and fans are feeling the way they do but we did this for a reason – we weren’t going anywhere and I think anybody who is a baseball person will realize that after two years that we had, we had to do something. We had to do something quickly and swiftly and bold.
The phrase “… we’ve built this amazing ballpark and …” in between “I’m sorry” and “fans feeling the way we do” pretty much sums it up. He may have well just called everyone ingrates. Of course he left out the part where those fans (a) paid for the ballpark against their will; (b) were duped into “a whole new Marlins” thing, complete with all that new merchandise the team sold last year; and (c) were then treated to another talent liquidation.
Beyond that, Loria gives his side of the story regarding Jose Reyes’ claim that Loria told him to buy a house in Miami a couple of days before he was traded. He-said-he-said, I suppose.
He also notes that the Marlins will not be making a long term offer to Giancarlo Stanton this season. Which isn’t the most surprising thing in the world given that he’s not yet arbitration eligible. But since this is the Marlins and they’ll trade anyone at anytime, it leaves the door open for him to be traded.
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.