Mark Mulder received some sad news yesterday when tests revealed that he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon while doing agility drills prior to a bullpen session. The left-hander was well on his way to pitching again in the Majors after a five-year layoff due to persistent shoulder problems, but he now yet more adversity to deal with.
Mulder, 36, isn’t ruling out another comeback attempt, but he also isn’t exactly guaranteeing one, either. Via Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:
Mulder didn’t necessarily rule out a return, though. He’ll know a lot more when he meets with the doctor who will perform his surgery on Monday. But rehab will be somewhere between five and eight months, which means the earliest he can come back is 2015.
Asked if he’d like to pitch again, the 36-year-old left-hander said: “I’d love to say yes, but I don’t know. I have to wait and see what the doctors say — see what the process is of how healthy I can get it, how good it feels.”
Many across baseball expressed sympathy for Mulder, including manager Mike Scioscia and former Athletics teammate Tim Hudson. Scioscia said, “This guy worked so hard. He was legitimately throwing the ball close to where he was in his prime.” Hudson said he was “sick to my stomach” (via Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area).
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.