Winter meetings notes from day two: Giants, Brewers, Astros

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– Giants GM Brian Sabean said there’s no way Bengie Molina would be returning to the team. “That ship has sailed,” he told the San Jose Mercury News.
The Giants don’t want to turn over the job to Buster Posey, so Molina would still make sense if he can’t get a multiyear deal elsewhere. However, the Giants appear to be focused on Yorvit Torrealba or, perhaps, Ryan Doumit.
– The Brewers are close to re-signing free agent right-hander Claudio Vargas, presumably to a one-year deal.
Vargas, a starter for the Brewers in 2007, did a great job in low-leverage situations after being reacquired from the Dodgers on July 31, amassing a 1.78 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. He’ll need to take on a bigger role in next year’s pen, particularly now that Mark DiFelice is expected to miss the season.
– The Nationals have brought back Jerry Owens on a minor league contract, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.
Owens was the Nationals’ second-round pick in 2003. He was traded to the White Sox for Alex Escobar a year and a half later and hit .262/.319/.305 in 393 at-bats over four seasons for Chicago. He should be Triple-A fodder for the Nats, but perhaps there’s the chance that he’ll make the team as a bench player if Willie Harris is traded.
The Astros have signed eight players to minor league deals with spring training invitations: RHP Roy Corcoran, RHP Ryan Sadowski, RHP Casey Daigle, RHP Gary Majewski, 1B Chris Shelton, INF Drew Meyer, INF Oswaldo Nararro and OF Alex Romero.
If you’re a pitcher and a minor league free agent, the Astros would seem to be a prime team to sign with. Corcoran had a 3.22 ERA in 722/3 innings for the Mariners in 2008 and would seem to be the player here with the best chance of making the Astros out of spring training. Shelton is also deserving of another opportunity, though he’s less likely to get it. He hit .314/.396/.509 for Triple-A Tacoma last season.

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.