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Minor leaguers from the Cubs and White Sox suspended

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Great. Now, ten years from now, when these two lead the White Sox and Cubs to the World Series, they’ll have to answer all kinds of questions from the media:

Chicago White Sox Minor League right-handed pitcher Nicholas Blount has received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine.  The suspension of Blount, who is currently on the roster of the rookie-level Great Falls Voyagers of the Pioneer League, will be effective at the start of next season.

I once spent a week trying a case in Federal Court in Great Falls, Montana. It was January 2004. It was around 20 degrees below zero before the wind chill. When I got my rental car at the airport the guy handed me an engine block heater. My hotel didn’t have any internet service so I went to an internet cafe in a strip mall full of old men looking at pornography.

I’m not saying such conditions excuse drug use. I’m just saying that I understand. Also:

Chicago Cubs Minor League shortstop Elliot Soto has received a 50-game suspension without pay after a second violation for a drug of abuse.  The suspension of Soto, who is currently on the roster of the Single-A Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League, will be effective at the start of next season.

Soto was a 13th round draft pick, decided not to sign, then came back and was a 15th round draft pick. His stock has not exactly rebounded.

 

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.