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Cliff Lee, cowboy boots and free agent madness

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Just after midnight Eastern on Saturday night it will be open season on free agents. But the madness is already starting.

According to ‘Duk over at BLS, Cliff Lee has been spotted buying cowboy boots!

Hold the presses! This clearly means Cliff Lee is staying with the Texas Rangers right? Or maybe he’s interested in the Houston Astros. Or maybe he just likes cowboy boots. Or perhaps he wants to do duets with the Naked Cowboy. Anyone think of that? Hmmm?

On a (slightly) more serious note, Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson went on the radio on Tuesday morning and made a case for Lee staying in Texas, citing love of team and lower taxes. From the Dallas Morning News:

“If Boston offers him X amount of dollars and we offer him X amount of dollars, if it’s the same, then he’ll probably chose us over Boston. Because of the good times that he had and the fact that the state income taxes are negligible here.”

Wilson also talked about writing a movie about the 2010 Rangers. Not surprisingly, he chose Brad Pitt to play himself. He also said he would have Clint Eastwood play team president and part owner Nolan Ryan, though I’m not sure Eastwood is tough enough. What do you think, Robin Ventura?

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.

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.