I don’t think anyone was truly holding out hope that Jayson Werth would return to the Phillies, but if there was a shred of it, Jayson Stark shoots it down like Paul Newman shot diseased cattle in “Hud”:
Here’s one Phillies source on the odds of his team finding a way to keep Jayson Werth: “No chance. None. Zero.” In the end, it might not even be the annual dollars that will force the Phillies to move on. It’s their unwillingness to go beyond three or four years for a player who will turn 32 next May.
So that’s that. But fear not, Phillies fans, your team is on the hunt for a free agent:
The free agent the Phillies have been most aggressive about trying to re-sign isn’t Werth. It’s right-hander Jose Contreras, who struck out 57 in 56 2/3 innings in his first full season in the bullpen. Amaro wouldn’t confirm that, but did say: “We’ve made contact with 40 free agents, predominantly bullpen guys.” He also said: “Left-handed relief is a priority for us.”
Every Philly fan I know is concerned about the outfield and/or a right-handed bat. But hey, that left handed middle relief may look good soon!
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.