John Fay — who doesn’t engage in wild speculation — reports that the Reds could shop second baseman Brandon Phillips this winter. He cites the Reds’ interest in Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero as one suggestion that they’re willing to move past Phillips. The second reason is more personal:
Phillips ticked off a lot of people in the organization with his behavior this year. Bob Castellini was the driving force behind Phillips signing. Phillips basically called Castellini a liar in the Cincinnati Magazine article … Phillips slapped the wrong guy in the face by saying that.
Given that offensive production was just average this year — Phillips was seventh in OPS among National League second basemen — the Reds could get similar offense for a lot less money.
Phillips has four years and $50 million on his contract and — RBIs notwithstanding — is coming off his worst offensive year in some time. So yes, they could get that offense for less money. But who takes that offense — and that contract — from Cincy?
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.