The Phillies are at least two years into an era in which they should be rebuilding but apparently don’t feel the need to do so: the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline has passed and they made no deals. Not a one.
This despite having numerous pieces that other teams could probably use. Maybe Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels were pipe dream deals — Hamels is sticking around and should and Lee is more of a waiver deal guy — but Marlon Byrd, Antonio Bastardo and A.J. Burnett were all marketable. No, they may not have gotten a huge return, but they are not part of the future so moving them, even in minor deals, would’ve made sense. Ruben Amaro didn’t think so.
OK, he thought so. He just didn’t like the offers he was getting:
Well, OK. But if the rest of baseball doesn’t value what you have the way you do, maybe you’re the one overstating the value of what you have? Wouldn’t be the first time Amaro has done this.
Anyway, like they say: if it ain’t broke, oh, wait. Never mind.
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.