Via Nick Cafardo’s notes column in the Boston Globe:
Mark Buehrle, LHP, Blue Jays — Scouts are already indicating the Blue Jays will be a major team to pay attention to at the trading deadline. If they start fading, scouts view Buehrle as a top target of contending teams. There’s also Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to consider, but Buehrle, given his ability to pitch in either league at a high level and to work quickly and effectively, will be valued.
Buehrle is making $18 million this year and owed $19 million next year. He can then become a free agent after the 2015 season. That’s quite a bit of money for a mid-rotation starter, but the 35-year-old southpaw has posted an ace-like 2.25 ERA in 40 innings (six starts) so far this season for Toronto and he has thrown more than 200 innings in 13 straight major league campaigns. Durability is a big selling point these days.
The Blue Jays look like they’ll be deadline sellers here in early May with a record of 13-17.
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.