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MLB suspends Ryan Braun for the remainder of the season

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MLB announced that Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has been suspended for the remainder of the season for “violations of the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.”

Braun has already accepted the suspension and the former MVP issued a statement that said: “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”

Milwaukee has 65 games remaining and Braun has been suspended without pay, which means he’ll lose about $3.5 million. He finishes the year hitting .298 with nine homers and an .869 OPS in 61 games, missing time and seeing his production suffer due to a lingering thumb injury.

More coverage: Evidence against A-Rod reportedly goes beyond what Braun faced

Last year Braun successfully appealed a 50-game suspension for elevated testosterone levels on the grounds that the test sample was handled improperly, holding a press conference to proclaim his innocence and saying, among other things: “My name was dragged through the mud. … Today is for anyone who has been wrongly accused and everyone who stood up for what’s right. It’s about future players and the game of baseball.”

In light of today’s news, the quotes from that 2012 press conference are astounding.

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.