Red Sox, Mets join list of teams linked to Lackey

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Not surprisingly, various reports following the general manager meetings in Chicago earlier this week note that the Mets and Red Sox were among teams to have talks with John Lackey’s agent.
Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald describes the Red Sox as “still in the fact-gathering stage” while David Lennon of New York Newsday suggests that the Mets are “testing waters.” Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reported previously that the Brewers met with Lackey’s agent.
Toss in the Angels’ interest in re-signing Lackey, the Yankees’ presumed interest in adding him to their rotation, plus the various other interested teams not yet heavily linked to him and … well, there’s a reason why he’s the consensus No. 1 free agent pitcher available. In writing last month about Lackey’s upcoming free agency I noted that he’s typically been one of the 10-15 best starters in the American League each season, making him a mid-level No. 1 starter.
Back then I wondered whether or not he’d top the five-year, $82.5 million deal that A.J. Burnett received from the Yankees last offseason. If the usual big spenders like the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, and Mets are truly all in the mix that seems like a lock at this point. Lackey is a good, solid top-of-the-rotation starter, but it also looks like he stands to benefit more than anyone from this offseason’s weak crop of free agents. Can a 31-year-old pitcher with 102 career wins, a lifetime 3.81 ERA, and just one All-Star appearance get $100 million on the open market? It’s starting to look that way.

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)
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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.

Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.

Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.

EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.