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The Diamondbacks have introduced a luchador as an official mascot

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While the Marlins are having a “Legends of Wrestling” night next month, the Diamondbacks are going a step further. They have introduced a luchador as an official team mascot. Seriously.

As the official press release from the team indicates, this is part of an effort to attract the Hispanic community:

The popularity of last year’s Lucha Libre mask, which was later followed by a Lucha Libre match, inspired the creation of the Luchador character and this year the mascot features a new look. In addition, the D-backs will give away 20,000 Luchador masks, courtesy of Circle K and Univision Arizona, as fans enter Chase Field next Saturday, July 27.

The D-backs Luchador speaks both fluent Spanish and English and represents a character that you would find at a Lucha Libre match. The D-backs Luchador wrestles with Club Deportivo Coliseo and can be found revving up the crowd at select D-backs games. Fans can follow the Luchador on Twitter @DbacksLuchador and can find more information about the character at http://www.dbacks.com/luchador or http://www.losbacks.com/luchador.

This season, the D-backs will give away 20,000 Luchador masks, courtesy of Circle K and Univision Arizona, (July 27) and 5,000 Luchador capes, courtesy of Chevrolet, for kids only (Sept. 15). Last season the team gave away their first D-backs Lucha Libre mask and featured a Lucha Libre match along the Gila River Casinos Plaza prior to the game. In addition, the D-backs will host Hispanic Heritage Day, presented by Budweiser, on Sept. 14 that will feature a Street Festival, presented by APS, and will give away 20,000 Miguel Montero bobbleheads, courtesy of Subway.

Don’t worry, the luchador already took to Twitter to say that he’s not replacing D. Baxter the Bobcat as the team’s mascot. So I guess they are more of a tag team. A gritty tag team, of course.

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.