Alex Rodriguez

Yankees, A-Rod, slowly getting back on the same page … with an assist from Derek Jeter

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You get the impression that the Yankees have figured out that the cuckoo 36 hours or so in which A-Rod tweeted, Cashman bleated and then the rumors about A-Rod’s sinister plot to do, well, something, weren’t in the team’s best interestes. Because based on this story in the Daily News, things are sorta getting back to normal:

Derek Jeter, also rehabbing in Tampa, said Thursday that Rodriguez, who has missed the first three months of the season due to hip surgery in January, looks like he can still be a contributing player to the Yankees.

“Alex works extremely hard,” said Jeter, who is in Tampa to rehab the left ankle he broke during the 2012 playoffs. “He is working hard now to get back.”

Then:

Meanwhile, a Yankee source and a Rodriguez spokesperson both shot down multiple reports that A-Rod had told the Yankees — including GM Brian Cashman and team president Randy Levine on a call Wednesday — that he didn’t think he could come back this year.

The Yankee source told the Daily News the reports are “fantasy.”

If the Captain offers some support in A-Rod’s direction and the team calls a report that makes A-Rod look bad a “fantasy” one gets the sense that a decision has been made to try to put this fire out.

My guess: next thing we hear from anyone in all of this will be when A-Rod is actually cleared to play.

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.