From Jon Paul Morosi at FOXSports.com …
At last month’s winter meetings, Major League Baseball was poised to make two major changes to the sport: A broad expansion of instant replay and elimination of collisions at home plate.
But with spring training only one month away, it’s uncertain whether either will be implemented for the 2014 season. One major reason: The MLB Players Association has yet to give its approval, which is required under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
MLBPA officials aren’t ruling out a last-minute sign-off, but they clearly have some issues with the proposal that was presented to them last month in Orlando.
“Without getting into the specifics of those discussions I can say that a consensus on both matters was not reached,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark wrote in an email Saturday to Morosi. “What has been contemplated exceeds what was agreed to. Because of that, we’re in the process of working through some of the issues as we see them. … As it relates to home plate collisions, there are several points of view to explore with the players and we continue to do so.”
The waiting game continues.
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.