MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

The Bud Selig farewell tour may be coming to a ballpark near you

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Bud Selig is retiring after the 2014 season and he tells Jayson Stark of ESPN that he has an idea: he wants to visit all 30 parks to say goodbye — and thank you — to behind the scenes folks and people like that:

“I want to talk to season-ticket holders and fans,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of people to thank.”

That idea came about, he said, in part because several clubs reached out to him after his announcement and asked to honor him, but also because [Mariano] Rivera’s farewell tour got Selig to thinking about ways to connect with people who love baseball.

“I like that,” Selig said. “I like talking to people. And … that’s what I want to do: [speak to] season-ticket holders, people who work at ballparks. I just like to walk around and talk to people. I love that. I did that when I ran the Brewers. And I enjoyed it. I miss that.

If it’s for him and it’s truly about thanking people that’d be pretty great. If it turns into teams giving him gifts and things in ceremonies I imagine it’ll grow a bit tiresome pretty quickly. And I imagine it might backfire.

Why? Because while it’s hard to argue that Selig hasn’t been an effective commissioner, being an effective commissioner is a narrow thing. He’s made money for owners and made the game successful, that cannot be denied. But I feel like the average fan still probably has scorn for Selig, justified or not. Maybe they hate interleague play. Maybe they still hold the 1994-95 strike against him. Maybe they have any number of beefs. Whether it’s his fault or not, people would probably use the opportunity to boo him or something because as Commissioner he’s, by definition, a lightning rod.

It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

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.