Orioles set to fill closer's role with Gonzalez

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The Orioles and Mike Gonzalez are close to an agreement on a two-year, $12 million contract that could be worth $8 million per year through incentives, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown.
The move would seem to bring an end to Baltimore’s search for a closer and eliminate the team as a suitor for Jose Valverde, who could be left out in the cold this winter. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Orioles could add another possible ninth-inning guy — after all, Gonzalez will be making the same amount as Danys Baez did when Baltimore signed him to a three-year, $18 million contract to serve as a setup man — but the club should be satisfied with the setup work that Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara will provide.
The deal qualifies as more bad news for the Braves, who were hoping to get two first-round picks and two sandwich picks after offering arbitration to Rafael Soriano and Gonzalez. Soriano, of course, accepted the arbitration offer and was traded for a mediocre reliever in Jesse Chavez. Now Gonzalez is signing with a team with a protected first-round pick, meaning the Braves will have to settle for a second-rounder in addition to their supplemental first-round pick. Atlanta will be without a true first-round pick after giving up its own to land Billy Wagner.

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.