The Dodgers announced this evening that they have declined 2014 options on second baseman Mark Ellis and left-hander Chris Capuano.
Ellis received a $1 million buyout in lieu of his $5.75 million club option. The 36-year-old batted .270/.323/.351 with six home runs and 48 RBI over 126 games this season. The decision doesn’t come as a big surprise after the Dodgers signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million contract earlier this month, but it’s possible that Ellis could return in a lesser role if he is unable to find a starting gig elsewhere.
Capuano’s contract had an $6 million mutual option, so the Dodgers bought out their side for $1 million. The 35-year-old left-hander is coming off a 4.26 ERA and 81/24 K/BB ratio over 105 2/3 innings this season. While he bounced back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen in 2013, he’ll undoubtedly look for an opportunity to start now that he’s on the open market.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.