The latest update in the American League All-Star balloting is in and there are a couple of changes. Robinson Cano has passed Ian Kinsler at second base. And, in a development which is sure to cause some to clutch for their pearls and grope for their fainting couches, Nelson Cruz has passed David Ortiz at DH.
Note: anyone who portrays this as a shameful development without noting that Mr. Ortiz’s record is not exactly spotless when it comes to PEDs is disqualified from our game. If you are worried about being able to navigate that thicket you can do the simplest thing and simply not care one iota. Plus, it has more going for it than mere simplicity: it’s hypocrisy free!
Either way, both Ortiz and Cruz paid the price for their PED transgressions. In Ortiz’s case it was nothing because the survey testing in 2003 did not have punishment attached per the rules. In Cruz’s case it was 50 games, which he served. Both should be allowed to go on with this crap in their rear-view mirror.
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.