In a column for the Denver Post yesterday, former Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs announced that he has hung up the spikes, ending a seven-year career in the Majors. Spilborghs, now 34 years old, hadn’t played since 2011. He spent the 2012 season with the Triple-A affiliates for the Rangers (Round Rock Express) and Indians (Columbus Clippers). He played for the Saitana Seibu Lions in Japan in 2013 but his numbers were unimpressive.
Spilborghs retires with -0.3 WAR according to Baseball Reference, but he had a few decent years with the bat as a part-time outfielder for the Rockies. In 2007-08, he combined to post a .306/.384/.477 line in 575 plate appearances.
Spilborghs wrote in his column:
I’ve spent this entire offseason contemplating sacrifices and opportunity, weighing my individual desires and that of my family. What I’ve eventually landed on, and let me say it wasn’t an individual effort, was an agreement with my mind and my heart, that I am going to move on from playing baseball.
I’ve chronicled my adventures in Japan enough for people to know that it took a lot out of me and the pure enjoyment of playing the game. I don’t regret playing there –I loved it — but it really put a part of me into clear focus: being a parent.
In his latest venture, Spilborghs will join Colorado’s Root Sports as an analyst.
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.