Harmon Killebrew

Fun with comps: Evan Gattis is … Harmon Killebrew?

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This was at the end of Ken Rosenthal’s notes column. And it was obviously there for fun so let’s not pretend it’s some serious deal. But still:

And finally, a scout offers this comp for Evan Gattis:

Harmon Killebrew.

I suppose there is something to be said about Gattis’ raw power compared to that of immortal power hitters. The guy can hit the ball a friggin’ mile.  But at the moment, that’s about all he can do, so let’s not go crazy with the comps.

Gattis just turned 27. He has a mere 300 plate appearances under his belt and a .303 on-base percentage. By the end of his age-26 season Killebrew had over 2,700 plate appearances and a line of .257/.367/.532 with 178 homers. And then he got better. Starting in his age-27 season in 1963, Killebrew did not post an OBP below .349 until his age-38 season, coming when he was clearly done as an elite hitter, in 1974. Over those seasons he posted a line of .261/.387/.515. And need I remind you that the bulk of that line came during an era that was the friendliest to pitchers since the Dead Ball Era ended?

Sure, Harmon Killebrew > than Evan Gattis is not exactly a controversial proposition. But then neither is saying that Killebrew is a Gattis comp. That before you realize that the scout who told this to Rosenthal, like everyone else, hasn’t seen the late Killebrew hit for 38 years and hasn’t seen a truly productive Killebrew for 41 years. Thus rendering his expertise as a scout on the matter kinda superfluous.

Comps are fun. But comparing a one-tool backup catcher to one of the greatest sluggers the game has ever seen is the sort of thing that makes fans angry when that one-tool backup catcher doesn’t become better than he is. And it’s not fair to the one-tool backup catcher.

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.