The sight of an American League manager trying to cope with his DH playing first base, his first baseman sitting on the bench and all of the various pitching and pinch-hitting choices at his disposal, whether they were made or bypassed, is one of the many takeaways of Game 3 of the World Series.
Might it one day be a thing of the past? Bud Selig says there’s no movement afoot to expand the DH into the National League, but he did note the folly of claiming that nothing will ever change yesterday:
My friend [Phillies chairman] Bill Giles once said to me, ‘You know, I like the controversy between the leagues. I think it’s good.’ Having said that, I did say three or four years ago that I had strong feelings on [expanded] instant replay. And, like everything else in life, you make adjustments and I now have somewhat different feelings. So I’m never going to say never to anything. But at the moment is there anything going on? No. If somebody has something to say, I’m glad to listen.”
Eventually I think it will be a point of financial negotiation, not a preference for the AL style of play over the NL that will rule the day and expand the DH into the National League. The union will see the value of a higher-paid player in the form of a veteran DH occupying a roster position than another reliever or bench bat. The league will continue to march on toward uniformity and the dissolution of historical relics that once distinguished one league from another. We’ve seen it in just about every other area where the AL and NL were once unique.
And while those of us who grew up more familiar with the NL than the AL may moan about it a lot, we’ll all get over it.
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.