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Tales of a burned-out baseball writer

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Tony Jackson has covered baseball for two decades, including gigs as the Dodgers beat reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News and ESPN Los Angeles, but now he’s hanging up the keyboard after a brief run as an independent blogger:

After all these years, I simply have had my fill of covering baseball. I used to think I wanted to do it until I dropped dead of old age. But it isn’t fun anymore, and to be honest with you (and with myself), it really hasn’t been for the past several years. To the outsider, this probably looks like a glamorous job, and you know, to some extent, it is. But it’s also an exhausting, all-encompassing job, one from which you can never quite break free, even in the offseason.

With another birthday coming up in a few weeks, I have decided that I want to spend the rest of my life, well, having a life, and that is a luxury you don’t really enjoy on the baseball beat. Too many 6 a.m. flights after night games, too many late-night meals, too many airport meals, too many hotel meals, too many days when I dragged myself to the ballpark in a zombie-like state, too many pounds packed on seemingly every season because there usually isn’t enough time to go to the gym and even when there is time, there is almost NEVER enough energy. It catches up with you after a while, especially as you get older, and it can make you get older more quickly than you’re supposed to.

Read the whole thing, because it’s compelling, interesting stuff. Best of luck to Tony in whatever he decides to do next.

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.