With the White Sox bringing up the rear in the AL Central, they are expected to make a plethora of players available over the next month leading up to the July 31 deadline. Among them is outfielder Alex Rios, enjoying an adequate season out of the #3 spot in the White Sox lineup as he carries a .771 OPS entering July. He is earning $12.5 million this year; he will earn another $12.5 million next year and has a $13.5 million club option for 2015 with a $1 million buyout.
Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says the Rangers, Giants, and D-Backs are three teams showing interest in Rios as the Sox wrap up June.
According to industry sources, Rios has numerous clubs, including Pierzynski’s Texas Rangers, the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks watching him from city to city right now.
Rios has a limited no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to veto a deal to six teams. That said, if a contender comes calling he will most likely waive his no-trade rights.
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.