A's get infielders Fox, Miles from Cubs

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ESPN Chicago is reporting that the A’s have acquired Jake Fox and Aaron Miles from the Cubs for reliever Jeff Gray and two prospects.
It’s hard to imagine that the A’s actually wanted Miles. Instead, taking all or a portion of his $2.7 million salary was part of the price to get Fox, who is under control for six years and making the minimum. Fox has been a nice minor league slugger for years, but he really busted out last season and hit .259/.311/.468 in 216 at-bats in sporadic playing time for the Cubs. The 27-year-old use to catch and has seen action at first, third and both outfield corners. The A’s could see him as a cheap replacement for the arbitration-eligible Jack Cust in the DH spot.
Since they took on Miles, I’m going to assume that the A’s didn’t give up any notable prospects here. Gray is a middling right-handed reliever who figures to have a difficult time winning a spot on the Cubs pitching staff next spring.
Update – Outfielder Matt Spencer and right-hander Ronny Morla were the two prospects in the deal.
Spencer, 23, was previously acquired from the Phillies in the Joe Blanton deal. He’s a left-handed hitter with some pop and on-base ability, but probably not enough of either to make it as a regular. He might top out as a quad-A player. Morla, 21, is a long shot to have a career as a reliever.
Update 2The Daily Herald reports that the Cubs are kicking in $1 million of the $2.7 million that Miles will make in the final year of his two-year contract.

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.

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.