Jayson Stark is reporting that the Marlins have made an offer to Russell Branyan. It’s a major league deal with a low base and incentives. In that way it’s probably much like the $1.4 million he made in Seattle last year, where he hit 31 dingers.
Problem for him, though, is that he missed a lot of time down the stretch with a bad back, and when power is your game, a bad back is bad news. It also ended up being bad news for his market, inasmuch as he was reportedly expecting to sign a multi-year deal someplace to start at first. Given that the Marlins current first base options — Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez — are youngins, he may yet get to start, but it’s almost certainly going to be a one-and-done for Branyan.
Assuming he accepts the offer, that is. Which he should. Because really, I’m not sure who else would give him one at this point.
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.
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.