Caleb Joseph

Caleb Joseph has homered in five consecutive games

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If you’re not familiar with the name Caleb Joseph, you’re not alone. The 28-year-old, drafted by the Orioles in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, made his major league debut on May 7 this season and has been playing regularly behind the dish since catcher Matt Wieters succumbed to a season-ending elbow injury.

On August 1, Joseph went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts against the Mariners, dropping his batting average to .199 and his OPS to .577. Since then, though, Joseph has caught fire. His second-inning two-run home run against Cardinals starter John Lackey today was his fifth home run in his last five games. As MLB.com’s David Wilson notes, Joseph has become the 15th catcher to homer in five consecutive games. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco also accomplished the feat earlier this season, between June 20-25.

The record for home runs in consecutive games by a catcher is six, held by Walker Cooper, a catcher for the New York Giants in 1947. The overall record is eight consecutive games with a home run, accomplished by three players: Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987), and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993).

Including today’s 2-for-4 performance, Joseph is now slashing .227/.287/.429 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 175 plate appearances.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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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.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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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.