Joey Gallo (Rangers) followed up an awe-inspiring session of batting practice by powering Team USA to a victory over the World Team in the 2014 Futures Game, held at Target Field in Minnesota as part of the All-Star Game festivities. The U.S. team had fallen behind 2-1 when Javier Baez (Cubs) smoked a Lucas Giolito (Nationals) curve ball to the opposite field for a two-run home run in the sixth inning. Gallo answered with a one-out, two-run moon shot in the bottom half of the inning to put his team back up 3-2. As a result, Gallo earned Futures Game MVP honors.
Henry Owens (Red Sox) started and pitched a scoreless inning for the U.S. Jose Berrios (Twins) started and pitched a scoreless inning for the World team. Catcher Kevin Plawecki (Mets) drove in the game’s first run with a third-inning ground out, scoring Jesse Winkler (Reds), who had doubled to lead off the inning against Edwin Escobar (Giants).
Noah Syndergaard (Mets) took the hill in the ninth inning and retired Steven Moya (Tigers) and Domingo Santana (Astros) quickly. Rosell Herrera (Rockies) kept hope alive with a two-out single, but Maikel Franco (Phillies) flied out to center to end the ballgame.
The All-Star Game festivities will continue on Monday with the Home Run Derby, which will start at 8 PM ET on ESPN.
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.