Scott Kazmir AP

Scott Kazmir named Indians’ fifth starter, Jason Giambi makes the team

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Jordan Bastian of MLB.com breaks the news of two Indians moves which many have been waiting for:

 

When Kazmir was signed it was seen as a shot in the dark. But all he’s done this spring is strike out 13 batters in 13 innings while issuing only one walk while regaining lost velocity and impressing the Indians’ brass.

For his part, Giambi was expected to retire an/or enter the coaching ranks after his disappointing 2012 campaign and, well, the inevitable march of time. He has only hit .207 this spring, but four of his six hits were for extra bases (three homers and a double) and he took his usual walks.  Spring stats, however, were probably not the key to him making the team as much as the elder statesman persona he has successfully assumed the past couple of years, in which he has basically been an extra coach on the roster.

Whether either of these guys are still on the team come Memorial Day is anyone’s guess, but it’s kinda neat to see one old guy and one guy who, while not yet old, was considered dead and buried, getting one last chance out of spring training.

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.