Derek Jeter is … go!
Ken Rosenthal reports that Derek Jeter will rejoin the New York Yankees this afternoon and is expected to be in their lineup at either shortstop or designated hitter for today’s day game against the Royals.
This is ahead of schedule and, in many ways, contrary to the comments of Yankees officials regarding Jeter’s timetable. Just two day ago Joe Girardi said he’d like to see Jeter play back-to-back games at shortstop before being activated. He played short last night after a day off. Now it’s back to the bigs.
It’s possible the Yankees simply liked what they saw from Jeter, physically speaking and would rather have him roll up miles on the odometer in games that count rather than games that don’t. His performance on rehab wasn’t great — 1 for 9 with four walks and some shaky defense — but the point of rehab isn’t to have nice box scores. It’s to determine whether or not the player is ready to play in games.
Maybe it’s be a different story if the Yankees were playing well or had anyone who could actually hit a little bit, but it’s dire times for New York. And it’s awful hard to say that the Yankees aren’t better off with even a diminished Derek Jeter.
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.