As we mentioned last night, Robinson Cano is once again the captain of the AL Home Run Derby team and will pick his side’s squad. From the New York Post:
If you think Royals fans were displeased at Robinson Cano for not naming Billy Butler to the AL’s Home Run Derby team last year, they aren’t going to any happier this year. “No chance,’’ Cano said when asked if he would pick Butler, who has five homers, for this year’s competition at Citi Field.
Question: on what planet would the five-home run-hitting, .408-slugging Butler be a candidate for the team anyway? It was at least plausible for him to be a candidate in 2012, having hit 16 homers at the break and having the Derby in Kansas City, but it’d be silly this year. So why is anyone asking him that question to begin with?
You know — and call me crazy — I’m almost starting to think that reporters like to read storylines into things where they do not naturally exist.
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.