Josh Johnson met with Dr. James Andrews, who advised the Blue Jays to shut down the injured right-hander for the remainder of the season. However, the good news is that Dr. Andrews also determined that Johnson doesn’t need surgery on the strained forearm that’s sidelined him for the past three weeks.
Toronto acquired Johnson as part of the blockbuster deal with the Marlins this offseason and the one-time ace hoped to stay healthy and put together a big season with free agency right around the corner. Instead he made just 16 starts with a 6.20 ERA and more healthy problems, with Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com writing that the Blue Jays probably won’t even make him the $14 million qualifying offer necessary to receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
If healthy he’s without question one of the best free agent pitchers available this offseason, but “if healthy” has forever been a question mark with Johnson and he may have to settle for a one-year deal at age 30.
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.